Crazy for Farmer’s Market Soup

Crazy for Farmer’s Market Soup

When the weather cooperates with the farmers, the bounty is just beautiful! This summer the sun shone through even when it rained! Our spring was cool and rainy, and the summer has proven to be warm, yet not hot. All in all, the mountains and foothills have flourished with lush greenery, abundant flowers and gorgeous, just gorgeous produce. It’s really, really hard to pass up the varieties of tomatoes, squash, lettuces and peppers.

I came home with a basket full…… (ok, two baskets and a bag) of tomatoes, peppers, chard, more peppers (shishito), basil and at least three varieties of baby squash. And the sunflowers… well I filled every vase in my house with these babies, the flowers of which were bigger than my hand!

Look at this haul:

I decided to make soup. The day was one of the few drizzle days signaling what I hope will be a long and languid Indian summer. I pulled out THE SILVER PALATE, one of my favorite cookbooks. There’s a recipe in there for a big batch of minestrone soup.

I used that recipe as I guideline, whilst merging my own farmer’s market ingredients, to create a soup that is just full of veggies, accented with spicy sausage and filling pasta. This recipe makes enough soup for you to share with friends or save for a busy weekday meal.

Maybe you can’t find a market near you, but don’t use that as an excuse not to make this soup. Grocery store produce will do just fine. And you needn’t worry about following an exact recipe… I sure don’t! Enjoy your soup!

Farmer’s Market Minestrone

serves a crowd

45 minute cuisine plus simmering

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 to 5 links Italian sausage, sliced into ½-inch circles

1 large onion, peeled and diced

2 to 3 large carrots, peeled and diced, about 2 cups

1 medium zucchini, diced, about 1 cup

2 medium yellow squash, diced, about 1 cup

2 poblano peppers, seeded and deveined, diced, about 1 cup

6 large garlic cloves, peeled and diced

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes

4 cups beef stock

2 tablespoons dried oregano

2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 teaspoons coarse black pepper

Outer rind of 2-inch piece of Parmesan cheese

1 bunch of kale, stems chopped, leaves rolled and chopped

Parmesan cheese grated

Chopped fresh basil leaves

12 ounces small elbow macaroni

Heat olive oil in a deep soup pot over medium heat. Add the sausage and brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Remove the sausage from the pan. Add the onion, carrots, zucchini and squash to the pot. Cook until the veggies are soft and beginning to brown, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add the peppers and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes more.

Pour in the tomatoes and beef stock. Season with oregano, salt and pepper. Bring the soup to a simmer. Add the sausage back to the pot. Tuck the cheese rind into the soup. Stir the kale into the soup. Add water to the pot to make sure all the ingredients are covered in liquid.

Continue to simmer the soup until the kale wilts and the cheese melts, at least 45 minutes and up to several hours on the stove over low heat. You can add additional water as needed. Continue to taste the soup and season with salt and pepper as needed. Add the macaroni and continue to simmer while the pasta cooks in the soup. When the pasta is plump and soft, the soup is ready!

Serve the soup with a garnish of grated Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of fresh basil on top.


Ina vs Martha: The Brownie Wars!

Ina vs Martha: The Brownie Wars!

Since her first book, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook was published in 1999, my go-to recipe for chocolatey, fudgy, cravingly essential brownies has been Ina Garten’s Outrageous Brownies. But, the world turns, time passes deliciously, and I replaced it with a new favorite. Ms. Martha has done the unimaginable…. re-invented the best brownie recipe, Dark Chocolate-Spelt Brownies from her new book A New Way to Bake.

Martha’s book takes classic recipes and updates them with new ingredients from the modern pantry that she touts as better-for-you. She uses different varieties of flours, whole fats with some fat substitutes and natural cane sugar for a start.

I’ve made her brownie recipe several times varying the flour and the type of chocolate and it’s a winner each time. There’s method to this brownie madness! Martha’s recipe uses one bowl, and offers the technique of whisking the eggs into the batter for at least one full minute, in order to create the shiny, crackly top that is so very enticing! Her book calls for spelt flour which is an ancient strain of wheat, with a nutty flavor and a lighter texture than whole wheat. I’ve made the recipe using graham flour, crema pastry flour and whole wheat flour, and my favorite is the pastry flour.

Here’s my version of Martha’s brownie recipe. Let me know what you think. I know I’m a fan!!

These were gone within a single hour! Every. Last. Crumb. These were gone within a single hour! Every. Last. Crumb.

Dark Chocolate Brownies

Deeply chocolate, lovely with vanilla ice cream, cravingly delicious, you must make this your go-to brownie recipe. It’s a winner.

Yield: 16

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

½ cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces, 1 stick

6 ounces dark chocolate, chopped, about 1 ¼ cups

¾ cup granulated sugar

¾ cups brown sugar

3 large eggs

¼ unsweetened cocoa powder

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¾ cup crema pastry flour (substitute will unbleached all-purpose flour)

Preheat the oven to 350°. Coat an 8-inch square baking pan with vegetable oil spray. Line the pan with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang. Coat the parchment with spray.

Melt the butter and chocolate in a heat proof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, stirring until smooth. Remove the bowl from the heat and stir in the sugars. Whisk in the eggs until combined. Whisk the batter for 1 minute. (This will create a shiny, crunchy top for the brownies.) Whisk in the cocoa and flour.

Pour the batter into the pan. Bake, until a tester inserted in the center of the brownies comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool in the pan. Remove from the pan by pulling on the parchment paper overhang. Transfer to your work surface and cut into 16 (1-inch) squares.