Luna Bleu Farm was selling onions, carrots, celeriac, garlic, and winter squash at the Norwich Winter Market on Saturday; Your Farm had potatoes. I had garden tomatoes*, peppers**, and basil*** in my freezer. There were black beans from my garden, blue potatoes from a gardener friend, and dried bay leaves foraged on vacation in Casco Bay . . . time for Gypsy Soup! This delicious soup, adapted from The Moosewood Cookbook, can be created from foods available locally in early winter . . . and it gives me a wonderful connection to summer, to my garden, and to memories of vacationing in Maine.
Localvore Notes: Use whatever you have on hand to create a wonderful spicy soup. Serves 4-5. The recipe is flexible. Any orange vegetable (carrot, pumpkin, squash, sweet potato) can be combined with a green vegetable (peas, green beans, peppers). Use what you have; green beans and sweet potatoes are an especially delicious combo. If you have potatoes or parsnips use them. If you don’t have celery, don’t worry! And if you don’t have fresh or canned tomatoes, maybe some salsa? Innovate! Note that you will want to have some cooked local beans prepared such as black beans, kidney beans or soldier beans.
2 medium-sized ripe tomatoes (skins and cores removed)
2 Tbs.oil (local sunflower oil if you have it)
1 peeled and diced butternut squash or 2 cups sweet potatoes
2 cups chopped onion
3 medium cloves garlic, crushed
1 stalk celery or celeriac, minced
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. basil
dash of cinnamon
dash of cayenne
1 bay leaf
3-4 cups water
1 medium bell pepper, diced (or cut green beans)
2 cups cooked local beans (ex.black beans)
Heat oil in soup pot. Add onion, garlic, celery/celeriac, and sweet potato/squash/carrots/potatoes/parsnips/rutabaga and saute over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add salt and saute 5 minutes more. Add seasonings and water, cover and simmer about 15 minutes. Add tomato pulp, bell pepper and cooked beans. Cover and simmer for about 10 more minutes, or until all the veggies are as tender as you like them. Taste to adjust seasonings. A topping of shredded cheese is delicious but optional.
*Freezing tomatoes with skins on: Place clean tomatoes on cookie sheets and then in the freezer. When the tomatoes are frozen, transfer them to plastic freezer bags or other freezer-safe containers. When you’re ready to use them, take out as many as you’ll need and run them under warm water; the skins should come off easily. Great for soups, sauces, chilis, and stews.
**Peppers can be sliced or diced, quick frozen on a cookie sheet, and packed into freezer bags.
***The traditional method of freezing basil is to chop the fresh herb up fine and suspend in a little water in an ice cube tray before freezing.