Farmers Market Soup
By Jill Boman, my sweet friend and blogging assistant, here's Jill:
I’ve been making a different version of this “farmers market soup” every Sunday lately. That’s because every Saturday I bring home lots of vegetables and meat from our farmer’s market and this flexible soup is great way to get all that seasonal, locally-grown goodness into my family.
Besides access to awesome locally sourced produce, meat, and poultry, always having some bone broth in the freezer helps me easily pull this soup together. I make broth almost every week with leftover bones from roast chicken. I also freeze all the leftover bones from any cut of beef, pork, or lamb that is “bone-in” in a gallon zip lock bag. When the bag is full I make broth to freeze. I sometimes mix bones from chicken, beef, and pork together for my broth—I use whatever is on hand. Alternatively, you can buy soup bones from your favorite farmer or at your farmer’s market—be sure to ask your vendors if they sell soup bones. Sometimes they’ll be labeled “dog bones” but don’t let that scare you off. You’ll get a great deal and they work perfectly for broth!
I do my best to use only what I’ve bought at the farmer’s market for this soup, but since onions and garlic are such soup staples I buy them at the store if they’re not in season locally. Of course you can always substitute leeks, spring onions, or shallots if they’re in season at your farmers market. By the way, you could also call this CSA Soup if you use what's in your weekly CSA (community supported agriculture) box. You can find farmer's markets and CSA programs near you here and here.
Farmers Market Soup
- 1 pound meat of choice (even leftover roast chicken or beef). I like using sausage because it lends so much flavor and the rendered fat is great for sautéing the veggies—try breakfast sausage, sweet or hot Italian sausage, Polish sausage, Mexican style jalapeño sausage, smoked sausage, or any other kind of sausage either in links or bulk. It's best to find a local farmer you can get to know and buy from, but if not, here's an online source I trust.
- 1 onion (or the equivalent in leeks, spring onions, or shallots), chopped
- 3-6 garlic cloves, minced
- 4-8 cups rinsed and chopped, cubed, or sliced seasonal veggies from your farmer’s market. Keep in mind greens shrink a LOT when cooked. Be adventurous with new varieties! Here are some ideas:
- celery or celeraic
- fennel bulb (save some fronds for fresh herbs to add at the end)
- potatoes (white, yellow, red, or purple)
- sweet potatoes or yams
- turnips or parsnips
- summer or winter squash
- greens of any kind (kale, collards, chard, arugula, sweet potato greens, amaranth greens, mustard or turnip greens, spinach, bok choi, rapini/broccoli rabe, beet greens, etc.)
- okra (I prefer adding okra only during the last few minutes of cooking so it doesn’t get slimy)
- sweet corn, cut from the cob
- green beans (try Chinese long or Liana beans if you get the chance!)
- peas: shelled, sugar, or snow
- beets (red, golden, or striped)
- mushrooms (try oyster, porcini, or other interesting varieties)
- fresh herbs: parsley, cilantro, basil, dill, etc. (added at the end) — if you need to use some dried herbs, here's where I get organic dried herbs and spices
- Bone broth, around 4-6 cups
- Salt and Pepper and any other desired seasonings to taste (if using sausage, be sure to taste the soup before adding salt)
1. Brown meat or sausage in soup pot (unless you’re using roast chicken, beef, or other leftover meat). If using link sausage, you may want to wait to slice it until after browning so the casings don’t fall away from the meat. Remove browned meat or sausage with slotted spoon or spatula, allowing fat to drip back into pot, and set aside.
2. Add extra healthy fat of choice to pot if needed, depending on how much rendered from step 1: butter, fat from the top of a jar of bone broth, olive oil, bacon grease, coconut oil, etc.—you should have between 2 to 4 Tablespoons total in there.
3. Add aromatic veggies to pot: onions and garlic and also carrots, celery, and/or fennel if using. Sauté for a few minutes to infuse fat with flavor.
4. Add meat back in along with rest of the veggies and broth. If you don’t have enough broth to cover everything, add some water. (Note: you could also transfer everything to your slow cooker at this point early in the day, and just let it cook on low until dinner time.)
5. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until the veggies are tender. If using greens, okra, fresh corn or other veggie you don’t want to overcook, add during the last 5 minutes of cooking so the texture and color comes out nice. If using fresh herbs, add during the last minute or so of cooking. Adjust salt, pepper, and any seasonings.
Enjoy as is or garnish with sour cream, grated cheese, chopped avocados, sliced green onions, organic tortilla chips or croutons, or anything else that sounds good with your soup.
Tip: Make note of which veggies are in season at your farmer’s market to plan for different farmers market soup variations…
- If tomatoes, and sweet and hot peppers are abundant at your market, try a Mexican style taco soup. Great additions could include squash (summer or winter), corn, sweet potatoes, and cilantro. Add taco seasoning or cumin and chili powder towards the end of sautéing the aromatics. A squeeze of lime before serving would be nice too. (See Kelly's recipe for something similar here.)
- If using Asian vegetables like bok choi, consider adding ginger along with the aromatics and some soy sauce and rice vinegar to your finished soup, or you can go really wild and add red curry paste, fish sauce, a spoonful of coconut sugar, a squeeze of lime, and fresh basil if it's in season for a Thai curry inspired version.
- If okra, tomatoes, and peppers are in season, make gumbo. Add cumin, chili powder, thyme, and bay leaves towards the end of sautéing the aromatics. Gumbo traditionally employs the “holy trinity” of cajun cooking: onion, celery, and bell pepper, but you can improvise with what's available. It also usually includes smoked sausage and shellfish like shrimp, but again, soup is meant to be improvised (I rarely include shrimp in mine).
- If you like beets and they are in season, why not make borcht?
- If cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers are at your market, gazpacho is an amazingly refreshing summer soup. Try Kelly's gazpacho recipe.
- Does the cabbage at the market look especially good? How about Hungarian goulash soup (more broth) or stew (less broth)? Goulash generally includes some or all of the following: cabbage, potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, sweet Hungarian paprika, marjoram, caraway seed, Worcestershire sauce and of course onions, garlic, beef, pork, or sausage and broth. It's especially good garnished with sour cream.
- Gorgeous sweet corn? Make corn chowder, with smoky bacon of course!
- Are there a few random beautiful vegetables beckoning to you? Put them together with any meat you want and call it Farmers Market Surprise Soup.
- For more ideas to match up with seasonal veggies and meats at your farmer's market, see all of Kelly's soup recipes here.
- If your soup's flavor could use some brightening up sometimes a splash of red wine vinegar at the end (or other vinegar or citrus juice) can do the trick.
- Add heavy cream at the end of cooking time to make a bisque, chowder or cream soup. To prevent curdling, first temper the cream by gradually adding 1/2 cup hot soup to the cream, a spoonful at a time, before adding the cream to the soup. Once the cream is stirred into the soup, don't let it boil.
This Week's Farmers Market Soup Included:
- pork breakfast sausage
- purple carrots
- baby red potatoes
- patty pan summer squash
- amaranth greens (AKA pigweed—yes, it’s a wild plant, considered an invasive weed that has become so resistant to Monsanto’s Roundup that they are pulling out bigger and badder guns to eradicate this super nutritious and hearty native plant (the nutrition profile blows away common cultivated greens) from fields of GMO corn and soybeans. Here’s an idea: how ‘bout we ditch the GMO corn and soy and let amaranth grow in its place? We’d save ourselves and the planet from being poisoned with Roundup and get delicious amaranth greens plus a super nutritious seed/grain in place of nutrient-poor junk crops that should never have been the foundation of our food supply in the first place. Thanks for entertaining my little GMO/Monsanto soap box…
- beef bone broth (you can see I froze this beef broth in repurposed glass tomato jars)
Here is a photo of the ingredients I used in a Farmers Market Soup a while back, which included:
- Hot Italian Sausage
- Chicken Bone Broth (not shown)
I can't remember if I added potatoes to this one or not, but potatoes and heavy cream would be amazing additions, don't you think? Sort of a real food (but way improved) copycat of Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana.
Mmm, with some grated parmesan on top? Perfection.
Share your favorite variations in the comments below!
About Jill: My husband and I live in Waco, TX, along with our two awesome young adult kids (AND now in Dallas during the week while my husband attends chiropractic college). I have a small business selling handmade personal and home care products at our farmer’s market and local retail sites. I am also Kelly’s blog assistant.🙂 I am passionate about real food nutrition, natural health, local food, and I love to cook. Fortunately we have access to lots of local food via Waco’s fantastic year-round farmer’s market, nearby farms, and even a grocery store that sources much of its food locally.
See all my previous posts here, including posts on getting rid of anxiety and depression naturally, DIY deodorant, and many more DIY concoctions to replace expensive and full-of-chemicals store-bought products!