CSA Soup

Our CSA box came on Monday, and for the first time in two weeks, we had something other than zuchs and cukes! (Don’t get me wrong, it’s been a wonky growing season first with the wet and the cold, and then with the wet and the hot…the CSA folks are doing a fine job, if you ask me, I just don’t particularly like zuchs and cukes, especially when they descend upon my kitchen en masse). But I digress. We had baby spuds, onions (at last!!), baby swedes (or maybe they’re turnips? I really cannot tell!), some round pattypan squash, and a head of cabbage.

So I put on my Easter European chef hat and made a batch of CSA soup (wherein the vast majority of the ingredients come from our CSA box) for dinner tonight. As it’s turned out particularly well, I thought I’d preserve the recipe/process for posterity and share it with the world (lucky you!).

First, I started with a mid-large dutch oven and a low low low flame. Set the pot over the flame to preheat a tiny bit while you start getting your ingredients together.

First ingredient in the pot is a slice of fatty bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Just throw it in and then wash a small yellow onion. Cut the onion into tiny dice and toss in with the bacon, which by now should have rendered enough fat that the onion doesn’t burn/stick. Also smash up 3 garlic cloves and toss in. Stir this every so often as you continue.

Next wash your cabbage and remove any wilty leaves. Quarter the cabbage lengthwise and then slice into 1-inch wide ribbons. Remember to cut out the core on the bottom pieces! When the onion in the pot is quite transluscent and the bacon is beginning to turn golden, throw the cabbage in and stir well to coat with fat. This will keep it from burning. Let the cabbage cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to soften.

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When cabbage is softened, add your liquid. This time, I added two cartons of chicken stock (low sodium), for 8 cups total liquid, but that’s only because I’d already hooked up the dishwasher and couldn’t get any water out of the faucet. I’d recommend 4 cups chicken (or other broth/stock) and 4 cups water–a little easier on the wallet, and I don’t think the flavor would suffer in the slightest!

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Once you add the liquid, turn the flame up to high and get that puppy to a rollicking boil. While the soup comes to a boil, dice up your spuds. I used two yellow potatoes and two red potatoes, plus three baby swedes, probably 1-1/2 cups total once diced. Once the soup is boiling, throw these in the pot (carefully! don’t burn yourself with backsplash!) and reduce the flame to medium. Let simmer till spuds are cooked.

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While your soup simmers, dice up a sausage or two. I used two for 8 servings of soup. And, use good sausage, folks. You’ll see in the photo below that this sausage is approximately 30-35% fat. (I know this because my family makes the sausage. If you’re not so lucky, visit your local butcher or a good deli and procure a soft salami or thuringer. Please do not use brats–too much fat, not enough flavor!) Italian or Polish sausage would also do in a pinch.

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Once your sausage is chopped up, throw it in. Simmer the soup until the spuds/swedes/whatever root veggies you used are tender. You might notice that I have yet to say “season with salt and pepper to taste”. That’s because broth is salty and sausage is peppery, so don’t get ahead of yourself! Taste your soup just before serving and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Before serving, I also like to stir a half cup or so of half and half into the soup to make it creamier, but that’s optional. If you do try it, though, be sure to temper the cream before you stir it into the pot so it doesn’t curdle.

So there you have it. A very Slav-inspired summer CSA soup!

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