Summer-Harvest Vegetable Soup

As we move past mid-September, the Palouse-Clearwater region has been experiencing some hints of the transition from summer to fall. I find this a bittersweet time, because I love the changing fall leaves and their crunch and shadows on the sidewalks, the abundance of harvest season, and when it is a bit cold and rainy it is a perfect excuse to start making soup again! Especially after we spent a chilly weekend afternoon pressing some early apple cider with our friends, at Bishop’s orchard in Garfield, WA.

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This year, I’m looking forward to fall and winter more than usual, after discovering the amazing news that Deep Roots Farm is doing a winter CSA for the 2015/2016 “season” – read more about it on their website.

Lot’s of great local food events have been going on in the area this week. It is Buy Local week, and Moscow is leading the way with many events hosted over there, like the “Just Eat It” film that showed last night at the Kenworthy. Turn-out was very good and it was nice to see the topic of food waste joining the conversation on resource conservation. There’s good stuff happening all week, including the fair opening today, and tomorrow, when Donna Mills will be giving a talk (right up my alley!) on “Eat Local  Save Money” – which will be happening at the 1912 center over the lunch-hour. This will be followed in the evening by a Family-Style dinner at the Moscow Brewing Company featuring food from local producers. While you’re participating in all of this great stuff in Moscow, don’t forget to stop by the Moscow Food Co-op where, this week, members can save 15% on one shopping trip of their choice, and is a great chance to stock up on some favorites! On the Pullman side of things, tonight a celebration potluck dinner at the Eggert Family Organic Farm at WSU. The WSU Tukey orchard has also started their fall fruit sales and provides a great opportunity to pick up some yummy local plums, pears, and apples.

In celebration of all of this bounty, my mom gave me a box of summer veggies from her beautiful garden. They were a great excuse to make a wonderful late-summer soup and because the vegetables were home-grown, it made this soup really inexpensive to make. Soups I make at this time of year, typically go in a different direction than real fall and winter soups. Mainly in that they tend to be lighter and fresh in flavor and texture. Two things that I love to include are fresh sweet corn (Wilson Banner Ranch has been having a great harvest this year!) and fresh herbs. I’m sharing how mine came together but this is a really great recipe to use the abundance of fresh veggies that can overrun the fridge this time of year, it is flexible and can be adapted with whatever produce is on hand, and your favorite tastes (you can also add your favorite protein). If you are looking for a quick and easy (one-time commitment -that will keep you coming back for more) way to get in on some of this summer bounty with your own box of veggies, head over to the Palouse-Grown Market to check out all that is available to simply order online and pick up at the Tuesday Grower’s Market in Moscow.

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Summer-harvest vegetable soup:

This soup starts with leeks (or onions), sliced the long way and then across to give 1/4″-1/2″ half-leek slices, soil often accumulates in the layers of the leek, and it is good at this point to toss the slices into a colander and give them a good rinse

Sautee the leeks in your favorite cooking oil/fat for a few minutes, until tender, in a nice big stock pot over medium heat, then add crushed garlic

Then, some cubed potatoes, diced carrots, and celery, go into the pot and should be stirred around periodically for a few (3-ish) minutes, being conscientious of not burning the leeks

Now, add some sliced red pepper, and keep stirring while they sautee for about 1 minute (I’m still loving the fresh ones from Tonnemaker farms that I’ve been getting from the Moscow Farmer’s Market.)

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Now, add a few cups of vegetable or chicken broth, or just water, with some salt, and let it simmer for about 10 minutes, until the potatoes start to get tender

While those are simmering, you can prep the other veggies to go into the soup, these will be the vegetables that don’t take as long to cook – in my case, it was the sweet corn being cut off the cob, cutting the ends off of the green beans and slicing up some summer squash

Once the potatoes are almost tender, the corn, green beans and summer squash can go in, along with some black pepper and Italian (or your favorite) seasoning along with some more broth or water to bring the soup to your favorite consistency

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After about 5 minutes, or when the vegetables have arrived at your favorite level of doneness/texture it is time to add some fresh basil, parsley, or your favorite other fresh herb(s) to top off the soup

Then, it can be served with some fresh, local bread – mine was with a nice seeded baguette from the Pullman Farmer’s Market, fresh tomatoes on the side (thanks Omache Farm!) and some warm apple cider, on a rainy day in the Palouse’s transition season

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What are your favorite summer soups and favorite ways to celebrate the harvest season? Have you attended any of the Eat Local events happening around the area? Tell us about it in the comments –

Always with gratitude- especially to Shane McFarland for helping to clean up the messes I make!

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