Garden, Plant, Cook!

Friday, August 31, 2018

In The Kitchen, Another "Creamy" Vegetable Soup, and Around The Garden.

Roasted Celery & Cucumber with Dill
Dear Folks,

Okay, so I can't stop trying new versions of the "Creamy" Vegetable Soup.  This time I have been thinking about the fresh celery and cucumber sitting in my frig.  Aside from salads I love the cool and mild flavor of these two veggies.  Pictured is the cucumber and celery roasted, and I put a bunch of my dried dill for when I add this to the pot.  More in the recipe below.

Around The Garden

Meanwhile while prepping the celery several days ago, I cut off the base (about 1 1/2 inches) soaked it for a couple of day and planted it.  I love re-purposing "kitchen trash" particularly when I do not have my celery growing.  I took advantage of the shade of some basil and the extra moisture from the rains (we got 1.2 inches in 2 days last week).  These should continue to grow nicely - extra water initially and give me some usable stalks in several weeks until my self-sowing celery begins.

The other day I harvested my summer greens:   Sweet Potato Leaves, Roselle, Egyptian Spinach (aka Jute), three kinds of Basil (Green, Purple and Lime) and there is also some Pursland not visible in there.  I LOVE the ability to have tasty greens during our heat.  I use these in salads, stews, and soups and on sandwiches.  Last night I used some of the large sweet potato leaves as "wraps" for some avocado, bacon and egg salad.

The Barbados Cherry Tree (Acerola) is flowering again. This tree is so healthy we have to keep pruning it back because it is near a path.  It flowers and fruits multiple times from late spring until early winter.  Not quite a cherry flavor more like a sweet tart apple and I love them.

My Red Sunflower is still putting our some pretty flowers and I caught this just as the sun was hitting it early in the morning.  I had already cut down the huge yellow sunflowers and the seed heads are out for the birds and critters to feast on.

Our Crooked Neck Squash has more offerings for us.  The last batch I cooked some up for Deane with a bit of bacon grease and the rest I lightly pickled in vinegar water.

I got Black Tail Watermelon seeds in late after the early melon plants blasted - such a global weirding time in the gardens this year.  So we are looking forward to this and hopefully more.  This variety is small but with huge sweet flavor.

And finally before I get back to the Soup recipe, one of my sweet pepper plants is very happy in its place (I have sweet peppers here and there through out the gardens because I want to have them on hand - a lot).  The flowers portend more fruit this fall.   With the extra humidity from the Rains, peppers get a big growth flush going into the fall.

Okay, so back to the "Creamy" Cucumber/Celery Soup.

This is the finished bowl, topped with some minced salad veggies and a couple of chunks of avocado.

Basic "Creamy" Potato Vegetable Soup
This makes about 3+ cups of finished soup.

2 tablespoons of avocado, olive or oil of choice
2 - 4 tablespoons of diced onion, leek, garlic, chive etc of your choice
1 medium size potato (small chunks equal to about 1 1/2 cups) - I do NOT peel my potatoes.
2 cups of vegetable of choice, diced
2 cups of water
Optional:  complimentary herb to the vegetable
salt and cracked black pepper
limequat, lime or lemon
Garnish of choice:  minced vegetables, slivered greens, capers or minced olives, edible flowers - pretty much any topping you think goes with the vegetable you chose.
Optional:  4 ounces shredded or grated cheese

An immersion blender works great for this

Cucumber/Celery Soup Version
1 cup each diced cucumber and celery
I used about 3 tablespoons of minced red onion
Herb:  Dried Dill (fresh is great too if you have it)
I elected NOT to use cheese as I wanted the full taste of the vegetables and herb to come through.

For more protein I created little bites of ham, cheese and grape tomato.

Place potatoes in the water after cutting up - do not rinse - you want the starch - this is what makes the soup "creamy".

Preheat your oven (I love my toaster oven for this particularly in the hot weather) to 450 degrees.  Prepare a pan with aluminum foil.

In the pot you will cook the potatoes, warm 1 tablespoon of oil and toss the cut up celery and cucumber to coat.  Spread out on the prepared pan and season with cracked black pepper and salt.

In the pot add the last tablespoon of oil, put the pan in the oven, add the onion to the pot and set the timer for 5 minutes.  Stir onion at a low heat to cook but no burn.  When the timer goes off stir the pan of vegetables and put back in the oven.  Add the water and potatoes to the pot, bring to a simmering boil cover, set the timer for 5 more minutes.  When the timer goes off, add the roasted vegetables to the pot (turn your oven OFF), stir, add the herb if using and simmer the vegetables, covered for 7 minutes or until tender.

Carefully blend the soup, but leave some chunks for texture.  At this point if you are adding cheese, add and stir to melt completely.

Ladle into bowls, top with garnish of choice and enjoy.  And, in this case, my small bites of cheese, ham and grape tomatoes.

I hope you try your own versions of this "Creamy" soup.  So far I have made broccoli, asparagus a mix of vegetables (that was not as tasty - they clashed) and now this cucumber and celery which we loved.  I am going to continue to try this with other vegetables and make a collection I can pull from anytime I have some nice vegetable to work with - pairing with some of my fresh or dried herbs is the frosting on this soup!

Have a great day in the kitchen and garden,

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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