Garden vegetable soup

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On Friday I realized that these turnips were ready to harvest in my vegetable garden, and then I happened on a Greenmarket in Manhattan and saw beautiful cabbages, carrots, beans, and summer squash. If your mind works the way mine does, you too are thinking “minestrone,” otherwise known as delicious vegetable and bean soup.

The soup is simmering as I write this. Here’s what I’m putting in it: onions, celery, and carrots (all from the farmer’s market and my CSA); dried red beans (from the supermarket); turnips (see above) and one fennel bulb that was in my refrigerator for a little too long (local greengrocer); a can of chopped tomatoes (supermarket); cabbage, purple and green beans, and summer squash (my garden and farmer’s market); corn (greengrocer); and parsley (CSA) and my pesto (my garden) for garnish. and because I didn’t presoak enough beans in proportion to all the vegetables, I’m throwing in about a cup of pearled barley (supermarket, but organic).

How much of everything? That depends on the size of your pot and the size of your vegetables. As you gain experience as a cook, you learn to gauge these things (but sometimes you buy too many vegetables and don’t presoak enough beans). I’m making two stockpots, each about 10 quarts, and I’ll freeze a lot of this soup and give some away.

Method? That’s a little easier to describe. I presoaked the beans overnight (I know that some chefs now say it’s not necessary, but I still think it is, and they take less time to cook). I drained the beans and simmered them with fresh rosemary sprigs (my garden) and garlic (CSA) while I chopped and sweated the onions, carrots, celery, and a little more chopped garlic. Right now, the beans and aromatics are simmering with canned tomatoes, water, and the turnips and fennel, the barley, and some Parmesan cheese rinds (I keep them in the freezer). In about 15 minutes, I’ll add the sliced cabbage, then the chopped squash, then the green beans (except they’re purple), and finally, the corn, removed from the cob. When we eat the soup, we’ll stir in some chopped parsley and a little bit of pesto and maybe some grated Parmesan. Yum.

I still have to make a second batch of pesto tonight, and you wouldn’t believe what a mess the kitchen is in right now.

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