Rain dampening your spirits? Soup’s on!

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If this rain ever stops, I’ll be able to harvest the last of the vegetables in my community garden plot before the city’s clean-up deadline. In the meantime, I’m probably pick some of the swiss chard or kale in the rain and warm myself by making soup.

It’s a soup-making sort of day. Call it a homeopathic ritual: days of rain have turned the lawn and field beyond into a soup. Is a good bowl of soup the cure? A stopgap measure while waiting for health care reform?

Bluestem Prairie is a hip (but not cynical) rural magazine for those who prefer take their corn with a progressive chaser and tongue planted firmly in cheek.

Here are some good soup recipes for fall greens:

Russian Chard Soup

  • 1 lb. cleaned Swiss chard (i’ll pick just one color from my rainbow chard patch)
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • 1 1/2 c. chicken broth (store bought or freshly made)
  • 1/2 c. milk or sour cream

Melt butter in a wide, heavy pan.

Add chopped or thinly sliced stems and cook, covered, for 3-4 minutes.

Stir in chopped leaves and cook for 3-4 minutes more.

Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons flour and stir until blended. Gradually blend in chicken broth and milk or sour cream.

Cook and stir until slightly thickened. If a smooth soup is preferred, whirl mixture in a blender until it has the consistency desired.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Makes 4-6 servings.

(Adapted from Cooks.com)

Italian Bean and Swiss Chard Soup

  • 1/2 pound Swiss chard or kale, trimmed
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt, plus additional to taste
  • 2 flat anchovy fillets 
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves or dried 
  • 1/3 cup olive oil 
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled 
  • 1 cup cooked small white beans or drained and rinsed canned beans 
  • 4 cups chicken stock [or Garlic Broth for a meatless soup] 
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste 
  • 1/2 cup (60 g) small shell macaroni 
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving 

In a medium saucepan, cook the chard with 1/2 cup water and the salt over medium heat until tender.

Drain the chard, reserving any liquid that remains.

Coarsely chop the chard.

Very finely chop anchovies together with the rosemary.

In a medium saucepan, stir together the oil and garlic over medium-high heat.

Cook, stirring frequently, until the garlic is pale gold, about 10 minutes.

Stir in the anchovies and rosemary. Cook, stirring for 1 minute.

Discard the garlic.

Stir in the chard and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring to thoroughly coat it with the oil.

Stir in the beans. Cook for 3 minutes.

Stir in the reserved cooking liquid and the stock.

Season with salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil and stir in the macaroni.

Boil for 6 minutes, or until the pasta is tender.

Adjust the seasoning, if necessary.

Pass Parmesan cheese at the table.

(Adapted from epicurious.com)

Adapted from Bon Appetit by Simply Recipes and Bluestem, the final soup will take a little dry spell in order to dig the carrots, and will use some of the last lingering tomatoes:

Kale and Roasted Vegetable Soup

  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and quartered lenthwise
  • 2 large tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 large onion, cut into 8 wedges or 4 or 5 slices
  • 1/2 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut lengthwise into 1/2 inch thick wedges
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 6 cups or more of vegetable broth
  • 4 cups of finely chopped kale
  • 3 large fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 15 oz can of white beans, drained

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Brush rimmed baking sheet with a thin coat of olive oil.

Arrange carrots, squash, tomatoes, onion, and garlic on sheet.

Drizzle with more olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat.

Roast vegetables until they are brown and tender, stirring occassionally, about 45 minutes.

Cut squash and carrots into 1/2 inch pieces; set aside.

Peel garlic cloves; place in food processor.

Add tomatoes and onion; puree until almost smooth.

Pour 1/2 cup broth onto the baking sheet; scrape up any browned bits.

Transfer broth and vegetable puree to large pot.

Add 5 1/2 cups broth, kale, thyme and bay leaf to pot. Bring to boil.

Reduce heat. Simmer uncovered until kale is tender, about 30 minutes.

Add carrots, beans, and squash to soup.

Simmer 8 minutes to blend flavors, adding more broth to thin soup if necessary.

Season with salt and pepper.

Discard thyme sprigs and bay leaf.

Serves six.