Monday, December 07, 2015

Eating Seasonally

Just because we are a fresh herb company, doesn't mean that eating our fresh herbs stops for gardendwellers FARM when the frost takes the basil.  There are some herbs that are down right cold hardy, and this warm weather has us eating fresh herbs straight from the field even in December.

As an example, thyme is downright evergreen and with the right conditions it can be picked throughout most of the winter. 
Yesterday I made a wonderful soup with just a few ingredients.  Thyme is the main character in this one along with carrots - those wonderful root vegetables that last forever in our cold storage room.
All you're going to need for this one is the following ingredients:
8 large carrots - which is relative I know.  What's a large carrot in the grocery store is not a large carrot from our garden, so I only used 6 of our 'giants' and the soup worked fine.  The majority of large carrots for us this year were of a variety that had red skin on the outside and were orange on the inside so I knew that the soup would have that wonderful orange color.
You'll also need one onion.
You'll also need a nice little bunch of thyme.  I went right out to the field and picked the thyme I used.  You can see that in the winter, with the cooler weather, the thyme takes on a darker color and the stems turn a reddish or purplish color.  Wash your thyme and then tie it into a nice little bundle with a piece of string.
Peel and course chop the onion and begin to sauté it with 2 or 3 tablespoons of butter.  
Chop the carrots into thin slices.
When the onion in the butter has softened a little, add the carrots, your thyme bundle, a little salt, a little pepper and 32 ounces of chicken broth or stock.

Now sit back with a good book, do some laundry, or gather your chicken eggs while all of this simmers for a while.  It will take at least a half an hour but I like to let it go for longer until the carrots are nice and soft.

Then remove the thyme bundle and either run the whole mixture through your food processor or use an immersion blender to pure' it until its nice and smooth. 

I then put it back on the stove and add just a little (about a quarter of a cup) sour cream just to bring out the flavors and add another dimension to the soup.  This soup can be served warm or cold but I prefer it warm topped with some chopped parsley for garnish and added flavor.

Isn't it beautiful?  Winter stored carrots, especially ones you grew yourself are sweet and tasty and the thyme and parsley add just the right amount of flavor without overpowering the carrots.

Growing carrots doesn't have to be back breaking work either.  We grow all of our carrots in a bed raised to waist high.  The box is only 10 inches deep and filled with wonderfully soft, rich, compost.  Each year we get all the carrots we need for our little family of three without having to break our backs with a shovel digging them all out.

This is just a small selection of the carrots we harvest from our little bed.

Once dug, we wash them lightly and place them in plastic totes with lids and store them in our cold cellar for the winter.  They will last until spring for us.

Winter is the time to eat these and other wonderful root crops and long storing vegetables like squash and pumpkin and with the cold hardy herbs like thyme and winter savory you can add flavor to make wonderful winter dishes!

Here's the soup recipe in a nutshell:

Carrot Thyme Soup
8 large carrots - chopped into thin slices
one large onion
2 Tablespoons butter
one bundle of thyme (about 2 ounces), washed and tied with a string
32 ounces of chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste
parsley to garnish if desire
1/4 cup sour cream - optional

Melt butter in a soup pot over medium heat.  Add onion and sauté until almost soft.  Add carrots, tied thyme bundle, salt, pepper and stock.  Simmer until carrots are soft - about 30 minutes.  Remove the thyme bundle.  Puree the soup with an immersion blender or food processor. If desired add the sour cream and stir in until smooth. Garnish each bowl with chopped parsley or a dollop of softened butter.

This recipe is from the cookbook: From Asparagus to Zucchini and was originally submitted to the cookbook by Pat Cook, Neenah Creek Inn and Pottery and Madison WI. Herb Society.

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