It is the holiday season and there are other responsibilities to take care of in December. I have added the responsibilities of baking bread, holiday cookies, shopping and decorating for the holidays. Cooking dinner seems lower on my list of priorities, especially with some of the CSA vegetables.
I will make this a monthly blog column to review ways to use your CSA food in a quick and easier way. I am not a professional cook so some of my technique has been discovered by me and my family and friends find amusing. They work and allow me to eat more of my CSA food. Hope that they will work for you as well.
I woke up this morning with a sore throat and was craving soup. Even though I was not looking forward to cooking, I decided that if I made the soup from scratch it would be healthier and more delicious. Soup is actually one of my favorite quick meals by cooking the vegetables in separate pans and adding everything together at the end.
The ingredients that you need for soup are vegetables, broth and meat (optional). I always have the CSA vegetables and many are very suited to soup. Broth can be homemade from chicken bones and stored in the fridge, but in a crunch you can use a box of broth. My favorite is a low sodium chicken broth or a mushroom broth. I keep both of them in my pantry for days like today. The last ingredient, meat, is optional. I have a secret stash of bacon in my freezer to use as “emergency” meat. Not sure where I learned this tip, but it you freeze bacon, you can cut it on the horizontal whenever you need a strip or two of bacon for cooking (this is not cutting slices, but cutting across the slices).
With this week’s CSA veggies and my freezer/pantry staples, I decided to make chowder. Here is the recipe.
Amy Hetager, CSA Blogger
Potato Corn Chowder
4 leeks, diced
4 cloves of garlic (I was sick and wanted a stronger garlic flavor)
3 small cuts of frozen bacon, cut across the slices
4 medium carrots, diced
1 tsp each of dried oregano, dried basil and dried thyme
1 box of low sodium chicken broth
2 large yellow potatoes, diced
1 bag of frozen corn
salt and pepper
Use an enameled pot if one is available. I like the way that vegetables cook in these pans and it will make you look like a super cook without a lot of work. Dice the leeks and cook in almond oil until they soften and develop brown edges. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or two. Add the entire box of chicken broth and let cook on low for 15 minutes.
Peel and dice the carrots. Prepare a small sauce pan and saute the bacon on meduim-high. I used a splatter screen to make sure my kitchen remained clean! When the bacon is crisp, let it drain on a plate with a paper towel. I left the bacon grease in the pan and added the carrots. I figured that this would add more flavor to the soup. I added all of the dried herbs, salt and pepper. I cooked the carrots until a larger one was soft to the touch. There was a little too much grease at the end and I removed it before adding the carrots to the soup. I added the cooled bacon to the soup as well.
The potatoes need to be cooked separately so I peeled them and diced. These go in a pot of boiling water that I added salt to before the potatoes were added. They need to boil until a fork can pick one up, but it still has some bite. They will continue to cook in the soup. I drained the completed potatoes and added to the soup.
I also added the frozen corn to the soup. It will warm up in the last cooking phase of the soup.
I cooked the soup for another 15-20 minutes with all of the ingredients. It needed more salt and pepper before serving.
The secret to the quick soup is cooking the ingredients in their own pans so that we could move forward with the broth before the carrots and bacon were completed.