Summer’s First Vegetable Soup

Let’s Eat!

We jumped ahead of schedule, or maybe just jumped the shark, making this soup, as we had to work with a bunch of non-ordinary ingredient sources. In about a couple of more weeks, we will be able to make this with all fresh local ingredients. But sometimes you just can’t wait.

Ingredients

Chicken Stock

Crowder Peas

3 Ears of Fresh Corn

A small Onion

Butter Beans

Large can of Tomatoes

Salt and Pepper

Half of our ingredients were local, but the rest were scrounged for. We did have stock made from a locally grown chicken, which is unusual. The corn was fresh from the Festhalle, and the butter beans were from there as well, but they were hiding in the dim reaches of our freezer. The okra was really excellent and fresh, again from the Festhalle market. Here’s where we go worldwide.

Crowder peas are not yet in season, and hard to find fresh anyway, so we used dried peas from the famous Camellia brand from New Orleans. New Orleans folks consume as many Fagioli (beans) as Tuscany, and this brand controlled 95% of the market. They are that good. Cook these first.

The onion was an organic onion from California, and the big can of tomatoes was organic as well, but they were San Marzanos from Italy. I just happened to have some cans of them in my pantry.

MJ and I enjoyed this with some fresh corn muffins, made with McEwen cornmeal.The leftover soup will be frozen for the winter. The left over muffins were devoured by our chickens.

Southern Vegetable Soup

Southern Vegetable Soup, Just getting Started

Here’s an old family recipe, created out of the necessity of eating only vegetables. As it so happens, it turns out to be, and I am actually understating this here, unbelievably good. Our vegetables play well together.

I have Died, and Gone to Vegetable Heaven

Create your own version out of whatever you have, but this is ours. Using what you got is the secret to good food. Quantities are based on how much you have.

Ingredients

Chicken Stock

1 Vidalia Onion, diced

Butter Beans

Field Peas

Tomatoes

Okra. sliced

Sweet Corn, cut from the cob

Salt and Pepper

Except for the seasoning, ingredients are cooked in that order. This is truly a dish of high summer, when all these things are in season at once. I now mill my tomatoes in a food mill, so the okra seeds get to be the star. The kicker is when all this is cooked, add:

Wide Egg Noodles

The extra starch does some magical something or other, and adds a little who knows what. Wait, that’s called flavor. Ideally, serve with a hot piece of:

Corn Bread

We’re talking a real melting pot here, Southern Cucina Povera. We freeze some for the winter, and days when you think it will never be warm again. Freeze it without the noodles, and add those only when you cook it. This soup is the boss, the mac daddy, and the kiss my butt on twentieth street shut your mouth cheap talk at the table stopper. That last one is something of a Birmingham thing.

Veg and Fruit

Farmers of the World Unite

 “I have lived temperately, eating little animal food, & that, not as an aliment so much as a condiment for the vegetables, which constitute my principal diet.”–Thomas Jefferson

Speckled Lima Beans

AKA, Butterbeans

Lima Beans, known as butterbeans in the South, are one of our most prized fresh summertime vegetables, partly because they are less common than other goodies, like really fresh ripe tomatoes. They are less productive and more labor intensive than many other legumes, even though it is yet another crop native to the Americas.

Imagine our surprise, then, when we were roaming the Festhalle Farmer’s Market yesterday morning, to see market baskets full of butterbeans being sold by one of our favorite farmers. Note: a standard farmer’s market basket is four quarts, or roughly 1/10 of a peck. We swooped in like a chicken on a June bug, only to be told these were a special speckled variety of butterbean. Naturally, that made them more expensive. Nevertheless, we paid up, and bought a basket.

They turned out to not only be a wild range of different psychedelic speckled colors, but also included some funky solid colored beans. They are butterbeans tripping on LSD, and almost too pretty to eat, but eat them we will. Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

2 cups fresh Butterbeans–any variety. (Frozen will do if fresh are not available)

Water

Seasoning Meat (in order of preference–Tasso, Smoked Ham Hock, Smoked Bacon, Country Ham)

Salt and Pepper

Tasso, in the South, is a Cajun/Creole invention made of heavily spiced strips of pork shoulder, which are then hot smoked, which means smoked and cooked at the same time. It’s easy enough to make yourself. Tasso adds more flavor than other kinds of smoked pork.

The cooking process is simple enough: simmer the beans until they are tender. Removing the seasoning meat when serving is optional. I like my butterbeans to fly solo. These will work great that way, especially considering that they are already on a trip.