Homemade Vegetable Soup

We started out with a bang! The first full week of October was really nice, for SE Alaska, great fall days and just the right amount of crispness in the air. But now we’re back to rain, and every day’s forecast for the coming week has a little rain cloud and raindrops to remind me to wear my coat with a hood and bring my umbrella to work.

So soup sounds good, and as we’re still in harvest season, I think of big pots chock full of garden veggies. But I don’t have a garden, so I have to improvise a bit. I make this soup from a combination of fresh, frozen, and canned ingredients. You can use your favorite veggies and in amounts to your preference. Add pasta if you like, or you can even add beef or chicken. Serve with grilled cheese sandwiches for the perfect comfort meal on a chilly rainy October day.

Vegetable Soup

~3 cans of petite diced tomatoes
~frozen green beans, corn, green peas, baby Lima beans, one box each
~3 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
~1 medium onion, diced
~2 stalks celery, finely chopped
~2-3 carrots, sliced, or an equal amount of baby carrots, sliced
~2 cans of beef or chicken broth
~salt and pepper to taste
~tomato sauce and/or water to bring the ingredients to a soup consistency.

Put all ingredients together into a large stock pot. Let the soup simmer for an hour or longer to combine and develop flavor. Adjust seasonings. Add pasta and bite-sized pieces of beef or chicken, if desired. Simmer to incorporate flavors of the pasta and/or meat. This is also a perfect soup to prepare in a crock pot. Perfect for an end of day satisfying meal that is ready when you are!

Serve with sandwiches, fresh crusty bread, or, if you’re in the South, with cornbread (almost said “homemade” cornbread, but really, is there any other kind?!).

Makes many servings, and reheats well. Enjoy for dinner and for multiple lunches during the week.

Happy Fall!

Food done right

Tomato plants in the garden.
Home grown tomatoes

There is a growing awareness in the US today of the value of eating locally grown organic and sustainable foods. This isn’t a new concept, but there are more and more restaurants creating menus from locally sourced produce, dairy, and meats. The menus reflect what is in season at the moment…what is available at the time of year. The reality is that this is simply a return to a much older way of eating…long before pesticides, mass production, and vast distribution systems became the norm in the food industry.

Small and privately owned farms are leading this movement. There is a renewed appreciation for the art, the craft, the science, of food production done well, from the farm to the table. Farmers inspire chefs, and chefs support farmers. It’s a healthy and nutritious approach to life.

One of the goals I have in choosing “next” is to have access to farmers’ markets and to a wider array of food choices. At the local markets in Ketchikan, there is a good selection of ethnic and imported foods. But it would be oh so fun to have even more options. I remember my mom going to Indian food stores to buy authentic curry spice mixtures and other items that were not available at the local grocery. Things have come a long way. But I’m intrigued by the challenge of eating locally, and I want to explore the choices that come with living in a region of the country that has a rich agricultural tradition and more ethnic diversity of restaurants and resources.

Long ago, when Rob and I were first married, we planted a few tomato plants outside our apartment building. My grandmother, one of the greenest thumbs of all time, recommended a healthy spread of chicken manure as fertilizer for the plants. Those tomato vines produced an amazing harvest, and I must say, the only tomato harvest I’ve ever personally produced.

I don’t want to become a farmer. I don’t think my thumb is green enough. But I would love to have access to farmers’ bounty, and to have the opportunity to try my hand at growing tomatoes again. I don’t know if or when that ambition may become a reality. It is one of the things I’m thinking about as I sit dreaming, looking out at the Tongass Narrows. Living “as if, ” thinking, “not at once, but at last.”As  I said to a friend a few days ago, if all my dreams come true, I could spend the rest of my life living in an RV. I highly doubt that will be the case! But I think some adventuring is in order before I think about planting tomatoes or new roots. I’m good with that. I don’t need either of those things at the moment. But some day, maybe I’ll be a proud tomato grower again. And I’ll have a favorite farm stand to visit.