I am a chronic over-planter. Meaning, left to my own devices I will plant six tomatoes in a space where there should be three. Every single year. By mid summer, it is impossible to bushwhack through the tomato jungle to harvest a single fruit. Well, impossible for us to reach the fruits of our labors–the squirrels have quite a party in there. The peppers get dwarfed and starved of sunlight because they are drowning in the sea of tomatoes. Every single year, Dave and I have the very same conversation, in which he outlines why I should get a grip and limit my tomato/squash purchases and actually plant a reasonable amount. I agree to the plans, wholeheartedly. I repeat back to him why I should not over-plant. The last couple of years, in an effort to drive the point home, he has made a scale drawing of the garden that illustrates how much actual room there is for each plant. Then…we go to the nursery and I find all of these Amish heirloom tomatoes and French zucchini and cranberry beans and I get way too excited, lost track of time, space and all previous commitments, and walk out with 8 tomato plants. I can see Dave silently shaking his head out of the corner of my eye and I imagine he is thinking about his poor little peppers that are going to have to struggle to survive. This year we said goodbye to the backyard lawn to make room for my vegetable addiction, but the garden is still way over-planted. How many onions can one family eat? Fava beans as it turns out, grow to be bigger than my children. So so much swiss chard–and it is time to put in the summer things! So we are eating a lot of green things here. Green garlic, the immature garlic plant that has a unique and incredible flavor, is in everything (because I planted an entire bed of it). The herbs are popping right now and there are edible flowers in bloom–chive, calendula, borage. I’ll admit there is a bit too much out there, but it sure makes it easy to make soup.
Now that we have covered chicken stock and how to salt, you can make a delicious soup out of virtually anything. Seriously, whatever the contents of your vegetable drawer and/or garden right at this moment–if you have good stock and salt you are set. This is a simple, clean, healthy soup that is totally flexible and versatile. You can add or subtract ingredients as you wish. You can puree it in the blender at the end if you want a smooth soup. I usually eat it chunky–I like the textural contrasts of the soft potato and the crisp, sweet vegetables. Serve with a hunk of warm bread and a glass of cold white wine and you are all set. Better yet, sit outside (weather permitting) and try to figure out where to put all those tomato plants….sorry honey!
|Spring Garden Soup||
- 4 TBLS unsalted butter
- 3 heads green garlic, chopped (if not available you can use leek or scallion)
- 5 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into large dice
- 1 bunch asparagus
- 1 cup swiss chard, chopped
- 1 cup green peas, fresh or frozen
- 6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
- 1 TBLS fresh thyme, chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- salt and pepper
- edible blossoms, for garnish, optional
- In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat.
- Add the green garlic and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.
- Add the potatoes, bay leaf and chicken stock.
- Simmer gently until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
- Add the swiss chard, asparagus, peas and simmer 2 minutes (the vegetables will continue to cook even after the heat is off).
- If there is not quite enough liquid, add a cup of water.
- Add the thyme and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Sprinkle with blossoms.