Thursday, February 3, 2011

It's in the Soup and Good Farm and Food Reads

It’s in the Soup

My dad sent me a new cookbook last week - Earthbound Harvest – a collection of stories and recipes from the organic vegetable farm in Carmel, California, The book opens with a story of how the farm grew from a ramshackle road stand to a multinational corporation. The beginning recipe section is a celebration of soup. The first recipe is for Nan’s Tomato Rice Soup made with canned tomato juice, beef short ribs, onions, celery and rice. Simple. Perfect. This chapter, which also includes chicken parmesan soup, shrimp and corn chowder, curried garnet yam soup, pear and fennel soup and butternut, white bean and chard soup, inspired me to begin a journey discovering soup. Not only is soup the perfect meal for fending off the chills of February, it is the ideal way to glorify leftovers and make use of the canned harvest in the cellar pantry. My husband was searching for celery to dice into the egg salad. The celery? It’s in the soup! Cranberries? It’s in the soup! Cinnamon bread? It’s in the soup! Now my family peers first into the stock pot to see if the food for which they are searching is in the soup.

Soup for breakfast? Absolutely. A steaming bowl of broth is perfect. After morning chores, instead of another cup of coffee (so much caffeine), I curl my cold fingers around a bowl of meat broth. The freezer is full of stock so I started canning it. Some people are paranoid about running out of half and half or toilet paper; I worry about running out of stock or broth. So every chicken or turkey or rabbit carcass, every pork or lamb chop or beef bone relives as broth. And every nib of onion, celery, turnip, carrot or leek is thrown into the pot. Good stock is like a strong foundation; it is easy to build something great from good stock. Soup is a diary of what we have eaten during the week. Leftover rice, vegetables, meats, chutneys are thrown together to create soup. Jackson Pollock probably made great soup. Making soup is as creatively satisfying as painting or sculpting but more so because it nourishes us.

Nan’s Tomato Rice Soup
From The Earthbound Book by Myra Goodman

3 lbs beef short ribs on the bone untrimmed
2 large onions, cut in half through the stem end
4 ribs celery including leaves
2 large cans (64 ounces each) tomato juice (from my canned tomatoes)
1 cup long grain white rice
salt and black pepper

1. Combine the short ribs, onions, celery, and tomato juice in a large stockpot. Place the pot over medium high heat, cover and bring to the start of a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the meat is so tender that it falls off the bones, about four hours. Then let the soup cool for 30 minutes.

2. While the soup is cooling, combine the rice and 2 cups water in a medium size saucepan, cover, and bring to the start of a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the water has been absorbed and the rice is tender, about 15 minutes. Remove the lid and let the rice cool.

3. Strain the soup through a colander set over a clean saucepan. Skim off any fat that has risen from the surface and discard it. (Alternately you can refrigerate the soup until is it chilled and then remove the layer of congealed fat that rests on the surface.) When the bones and vegetables are cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones and add it to the liquid. Discard or save the bones, onion and celery for stock.

4. Reheat the soup covered over low heat. Season with salt and pepper (Depending on the tomato juice you use, you may not have to add salt.) Divide the rice among the soup bowls, ladle in the soup and serve hot.

Other great soup recipes can be found in my favorite recipe books The Victory Garden Cookbook by Marion Morash and Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.

Good Farm and Food Reads

I want to read as much as I can before the kid goats are born and we are milking twice a day and bottlefeeding 50 goats two or three times a day. My favorite books about food, cooking or farming are below and were found at my favorite used book stores The Bibliobarn in South Kortright and the Rose and Laurel Bookshop in Oneonta :

Tender to the Bone from Ruth Reichl. I laughed the hardest about her accounts of her mother’s poisonous cooking (really – she poisoned a wedding party with bad fish.)

Comfort me with Apples by Ruth Reichl. It’s not as good as Tender but still insightful about her days as editor in chief of Gourmet Magazine.

In Good Hands – The Keeping of a Family Farm by Charles Fish. A great history of a Vermont Farm

First Person Rural – Essays of a Sometimes Farmer by Noel Perrin. It brought back memories of our early farm escapades

Of Sheep and Men by R.B Robertson A great read about sheep, herding and dogs in the 1950s in Scotland.

A three book series: Moving UpCountry, Living UpCountry and Growing UpCountry – Raising a Family and Flock in a Rural Place by Don Mitchell. Packed with delightful adventures about families, flocks and farming.

I would love to hear your food, farming, cooking “good read” suggestions!

1 comment:

Gerry Gomez Pearlberg said...

Nice post. Will check out the books you recommend. My suggestions are Sandor Katz's readable and informative "Wild Fermentation" (which has had us making devilishly good kimchi, sourdough bread, and sauerkraut) and "The Lost Art of Real Cooking" (Abala & Nafziger), which is an empowering how-to on keeping it simple and intuitive in the kitchen.