How do these things go together particularly in the fall? Easily. Have a workshop making beautiful arrangements or wreaths out of the last of the garden flowers and farm fauna and eat a delicious comforting soup for lunch or dinner.
I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t love fall, all the vegetables, cooler weather, fire, colours, the smell of winter coming on. I love going out into the fields or around the house and picking out seed pods or dead flowers to use for arrangements on the front porch or on the table. We have a holiday wreath making on December 3rd and I’m looking both in the gardens and the forest for some interesting things to add for decor. I also love getting the last of the vegetables out of the soil. Vegetables and herbs are a great use for arrangements as they are for the soup pot. Soups are a “go to” and this one is truly a favourite.
We’ve spoke about “Christine Friendly Foods” - healthy plant based cooking and this soup is a great contribution to that repertoire. My own upbringing was based on both on a meat and plant based diet; my mother cooked creatively with vegetables and grains primarily because meat was expensive if existent at all in the war when she grew up and she knew how to make do without it. I think back to my childhood of my mom feeding my brother and me Tiger Milk shakes, growing sprouts on the window sill, having potatoes served over bitter greens, using legumes before they were popular, slicing kale and cabbages in most of our salads way before they were marketed in clear plastic ready to use containers. We are coming full circle embracing simpler foods grown from the farm, prepared in more traditional ways.
This Italian based vegetable soup can be made without the two ingredients that deviate from the “Christine Friendly” plant based food - the pancetta and the parmesan cheese rinds. I like to use them but they don’t make any difference in the fundamental taste of this soup which is focused on the vegetables that are used.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion chopped
3 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 red pepper coarsely chopped
1 hot pepper finely chopped
4 cups fresh or canned tomatoes chopped
1 can white beans drained
1 cup chopped cabbage
4 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup pancetta finely sliced (optional)
Fresh herbs: parsley, oregano, thyme
salt and pepper to taste
left over parmesan rinds (optional)
In a large sauce pan heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and add the pancetta if using. Let the meat brown slightly. Then add the onions and saute them until they are soft not browned, about 5 minutes. Add in the carrots, peppers and garlic and stir for about 5 minutes. Add in the tomatoes and the juice, the broth and the cabbage and if using the rinds. Add the herbs. I often just toss them in removing them before serving. Or tie them with kitchen twine. Bring to a simmer and partially covered simmer for about 45 minutes. This soup is great to freeze and to save for the next day. I also like to blend it with an immersion blender leaving chunks of the vegetables.