Almost every Friday when the weather is cool, there’s soup on the menu at the Blue Mountains Organic Community Gardens. Inspiration comes from freshly harvested vegetables, from garden to pot to belly in just a couple of hours. Everyone brings an ingredient for the pot from their garden or kitchen cupboard, or tasty accompaniments. So our ingredients are simple, and our soups are souper! So, here’s my interpretation of a Seasonal Garden soup.
Ingredients are what ever is freshly available to pick, try to have something from the onion family, & root vegetables. After that its up to you. Recently we’ve had a good supply of pumpkins of various planted and crossed varieties.
Put the kettle on. Add a big dollop of butter, or a healthy glug of oil (or both) to a large pot. Turn onto a medium heat to melt butter or heat oil.
Chop any available members of the onion family, garlic, leek, onion of course, spring onionsm shallots or bunching. I’d put fennel in here too though its from a different family it has a similar job in the soup, takes a bit longer to cook.
Keep stirring, don’t let them burn! and in a few minutes they’ll be soft and distinctly transparent.
Next roughly chop capsicum, pumpkin potato sweet potato parsnip carrot, any root vegetable or things that are happy to be cooked for a while, stir them around and mix up with the ingredients already in there. The kettle should have boiled by now, add the water and some veggie stock. Either your own or add stock powder; marigold and massel have a great flavour and no artificial flavour enhancers. If you don’t have either, vegemite works too. Grab 3-4 bayleaves from your garden/local community garden. If you’ve water left over pick a handful of mint leaves, make and infusion and leave outside, the wafting scent will remind you to come back and check the soup….
If you have grains that you like to use, now is the time to pop them in, a small fistful of quinoa and chia seeds make for a smooth silky soup with a bit of textural interest and the goodness of these superfoods. They’re ready in around 20 minutes Pop the lid on and get stuck into the garden for 35-45 minutes, coming back to the shed now and then to sip mint tea and check the pot hasn’t dried out. If the soup’s boiling rapidly on inspection, turn the heat down a little, too thick, add a little water and too thin, early on, more starchy vegetable or grains, or if its later a little cornflour. Chopped greens like kale and spinach can be added at different stages, and if you leave enough time for them to be slightly undercooked for you when serving then they’ll be perfect by the time its dished out. Season ‘to taste’ that’s salt and pepper and a little chilli if you like.
If you want to add lentils or chickpeas, soak some the night before and they’ll cook faster, they still add a little cooking time. Chop handful of parsley or your favorite bright green herbs for a photo finish!