Welcome Spring with Soup and Parcheesi

Soon we’ll enjoy those harbingers of the local growing season—peas and asparagus.  In the meantime, eating local and seasonal ingredients has its challenges.  If you have tired of broccoli and kale then turn to fresh and lively flavors during this transitional period.  Lemon juice, fresh parsley or cilantro, and bright herbs banish the doldrums of winter for the promise of spring.

Planning for the week I found myself wandering around the produce department, looking for anything grown “locally.”  At best, I could hope for veggies grown on the eastern seaboard, in Florida or Georgia.  Green beans, zucchini and more!  To get a jump on the week it helps me to cook on the weekend.  That prevents the angst of figuring out dinner at the last minute on the busiest evenings of the week, provides lunch and gives the kids a go-to food instead of snacky junk.  When relaxed I am free to experiment and so I transformed a winter soup into the recipe below.

Parcheesi bd2How does Parcheesi fit in?  A bowl of soup on the table looks a bit lonely.  The garnishes included in this recipe will round it out a bit.  You can also add a fruit salad and/or cheesy garlic bread, staples in my meal planning to fill up older kids.  Otherwise this soup stands heartily enough on its own, which makes it perfect for dinner-and-a-game night.  Parcheesi pairs perfectly as it takes less than an hour to play and is suitable for all ages.  (I never bothered with “Sorry” but taught the kids Parcheesi, lent tips to the younger one as needed, and helped everyone develop their own strategy.)  Homemade soup, garnishes for everyone to create their own flavors, and a board game breaks the work-/school-week routine.

WELCOME SPRING SOUP                                     serves 4-6

3 T Olive oil 2 Red potatoes, 1” dice
2 medium Onions, ½” dice 1 Green pepper, ½” dice
4 cloves Garlic, crushed 1 zucchini, quartered and sliced 1”
2 – 15oz. cans Chickpeas Handful green beans, 1” pieces (1C)
½ – 15oz. can Diced Tomatoes (¾ C)
4 C Water
½ t. Salt
4 Bay leaves 4-6 Lemon wedges
1 T Marjoram Bunch Parsley, chopped
1 t. Thyme 1 C Plain yogurt
  1. Heat an 8-quart pot over high heat.  Add olive oil once heated.
  2. Reduce heat to medium and add onions.  Sauté 3-5 mins. until translucent.
  3. Add garlic and stir for 30 sec.
  4. Add chickpeas (with liquid), tomatoes, salt, herbs, potatoes, green pepper.
  5. Cover, bring to boil, reduce heat to low and simmer 30 mins.
  6. Add zucchini and green beans.  Cook 5 mins. more.
  7. Serve with garnishes of lemon, parsley and yogurt.

SUBSTITUTIONS

Making soup allows you to cook with what you have on hand.  Simple ingredient changes keep you from getting bored with the same flavors.  Here are some easy substitutions to make:

  • Chickpeas – Cannellini or navy beans; Pinto or Black beans (plus add 2t. cumin and put Cholula hot sauce on the table)
  • Potatoes – Parsnips or winter squash, starchy and sweet!
  • Marjoram – Thyme only (just 2t.) or Rosemary, chopped, (2t. only)

COOKING FOR ONE

Soup recipes work just as well halved.  For one person use 1 can of chickpeas, 1 potato, etc.  You can opt to use a whole green pepper or a whole zucchini only and eliminate the other.  Omit the tomatoes and add a parsnip for a sweet background flavor.

-Nancy Teasdale (Owner #294)