Autumn Greens In A Pot
This yummy soup will hold almost any late summer and early fall vegetables you have on hand! Make a pile of all the things you think would be tasty, take a picture, and then prep all the pieces mindfully and add them to taste. The process of mise en place (getting all your ingredients measured and prepped) is a lovely thing to do when you’re working with fresh, gorgeous vegetables.
This recipe will make about a gallon and a half of soup, perfect for a crowd on a chilly night. Write down what you do so you can improve it each time you make it!
½ pound of bacon (we used bacon because it was on hand, but you could also use a meaty ham bone simmered when you add the water!)
1 large onion, small dice
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
Water, about a gallon
Fresh tomatoes, 6 or 8 large diced, with juices. If you don’t have fresh or frozen summer-fresh tomatoes, leave them out, is my advice.
Greens (collards, kale of all kinds, beet greens, chard) stripped of stems and chopped into bite-size pieces; you should have 3 or 4 quarts after they’re chopped; keep softer greens like beet and chard separate
1 pound dried black-eyed peas, crowder peas, or field peas, soaked and cooked according to their needs. Use fresh or frozen if humanly possible. Canned beans aren’t ideal, but are better than nothing! If you have fresh or frozen, cook them separately, as salt and acid from tomatoes will keep them from softening)
Salt, Texas Pete hot sauce, cider vinegar, to taste
In a large pot (at least 2 gallons), brown the bacon. When it’s crumble-able, remove it, crumble it and set it aside. In the fat, cook the onions until they start to soften, then add the garlic and cook, stirring, for a minute or two until it is fragrant.
Add about a gallon of water, all the tomatoes (if using) and 2 tsp of salt.
Add collards and kale. Simmer just until tender, about twenty minutes. If you’re using softer greens like chard and beet, add these toward the end of the cooking time, after kale and collards are already soft. If you cooked the beans separately, add them now, along with bacon, more salt if needed, Texas Pete and vinegar. Add a bit more water if it’s not soupy enough. Simmer for a few more minutes while you adjust the seasonings.
For a vegetarian or vegan version, leave out the bacon, and with the water, use a good-quality vegetable broth like Better Than Bouillon (or homemade!)
While we were tasting this at market, I found myself longing for crusty chunk of bread to soak up the juice and some good parmigiano reggiano cheese to sprinkle on top!
Autumn Squashes and Sweet Potato Stew
1 large onion, diced
Extra virgin olive oil
1 tart fresh apple, peeled and diced
1 large or 2 small butternut squashes peeled and diced
1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
½ tsp ground cayenne
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
Water, about 8 cups
We cooked the squashes directly in the water, and it was very tasty and fine. But if you have time at home, roast the peeled and cubed squashes and potatoes first (toss with good olive oil, roast on oiled baking sheet, about 400* until just browning on the edges). It takes a bit longer, but tastes even more rich and delicious. You can actually do this up to a couple days ahead to break up the prep!
In a large soup pot, cook the onion just until softened in a few tablespoons of oil.
Pile the squash into the pot, and add enough water to cover by a couple of inches. Add 2 tsp salt.
Bring the water to boil, turn to low, and simmer until squash and potatoes are super tender, about 45 minutes; add more water if it starts to disappear.
Stir in the spices. Set aside until cool enough to put in a blender and blend in batches and return to clean pot. Heat gently to simmer, stirring often from the bottom. Adjust the salt and other spices to your taste.
Instead of the spices we chose, you could fancy it up by adding a can of coconut milk, a bit of red curry paste (to taste) and the juice of a fresh lime. Or, skip the dried spices, and add a few shavings of fresh ginger when you saute the onions.
It’s a wonderful base from which to play with flavors you love!
Kale and Peanut Salad (in photo)
Get fresh, tender kale of any kind. Strip the stems, then with a super-sharp knife stack the leaves, cut it until you can’t cut it anymore, until it’s like veggie confetti.
Put the kale in a bowl and drizzle with a little good olive oil, a squeeze of fresh orange, tangerine or grapefruit, and a small drizzle of a sweetish vinegar like balsamic, or one of those fancy vinegars like dried cherry or fig.
Then top it with shaved slices or a small dice of fresh butternut squash (yes, raw!) and some segments of orange or tangerine. Top with salted peanuts (we used the fresh-roasted ones from market, and they were amazing!)
I’ve also used toasted pecans, roasted beets, fresh pomegranate seeds in this salad. Pretty much just use a nice balance of color, texture and flavor, and it will all look great on the kale, taste fantastic, and be a super-nutritious side-dish or meal!