Sunday, September 23, 2012

Mother Earth News Fair and Cream of Garden Vegetable Soup

Flowers at one of the farm vendors at the fair

My son and I did a mini road trip to Seven Springs, PA to attend the Mother Earth News Fair this past weekend.  It was a fun-filled, educational event packed with workshops, presentations and demonstrations covering topics such as organic gardening, sustainable living, modern homesteading and renewable energy. Although I wasn't able to get too many photos because a good part of the afternoon it poured buckets, but here are a few highlights of the day.

 Some of the outdoor area at the fair

 Heritage breed chickens

 Baked potato for lunch - even simple food always tastes so good outdoors

 Baby alpacas - so cute and such soft wool on this one's little alpaca Afro

Diva llama - strutted around when they took her out of the pen to walk among the fair goers

The speakers and demonstrations provided loads of inspiration for projects that will keep us busy for a long time to come. I saw a cooking demonstration highlighting various ways to use a Vitamix blender that got my creative cogs turning.  My fabulous mother gifted me with one for my last birthday and I have been experimenting with it all summer long.  I have made hummus and been canning sauces made from garden goodness like crazy during this harvest season.  I have to say that it would make my list of kitchen tools that are indispensable (along with a KitchenAid mixer, KitchenAid or Cuisinart food processor and a good set of sharp kitchen knives).   This vegan cream of vegetable soup will come together in about 10 minutes total including the minimal required vegetable prep time in a Vitamix and just a bit longer if you are using a regular blender. The chef just used handfuls and eyeballed everything when he made his version of the soup.  The measurements below are from the batch that I made so you can have a guideline to follow, but you don't have to be will still be delicious.

Cream of Garden Vegetable Soup (vegan)

1 small sweet pepper, stem removed and cut in half
1 small hot pepper, seeded (optional)
3-4 large ripe tomatoes or about 3-4 cups of cherry tomatoes - remove cores if very hard
1 large carrot, cut down to fit into blender
1/4 cup basil leaves (small handful)
1 Tbsp fresh oregano leaves
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary 
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 Tbsp miso paste or 1 bullion cube
sea salt and pepper to taste
3 cups of hot water (more if needed)
1 can of drained chickpeas or other white bean (optional)

Vitamix method
Put all ingredients except beans in the blender bowl and slowly turn the dial to maximum.  Use  a tamper if necessary to push down ingredients and add additional water to thin the mixture if it is too thick.  Let the motor run for about 4 minutes until the soup is smooth and piping hot. Turn off the motor and add the drained beans, if using, and turn the dial to 1 for just a few seconds to lightly chop the beans leaving a little texture or puree smooth if desired.  Season with sea salt and pepper to taste.

Regular blender or food processor method
Put all ingredients except beans in the blender bowl and process until smooth adding additional water to thin the mixture if it is too thick.  Pour the soup into a saucepan, add the drained beans if using and heat on medium until heated through.  Season with sea salt and pepper to taste.

I used a mix of small yellow and red tomatoes and large lima beans in my soup.  I also swirled a generous teaspoon of pesto into the bowl before serving.

Vegetables ready for blending into soup

Sit back with a nice cup of soup and enjoy watching the leaves start to turn as the days grow shorter and the air takes on a crisp feel.

Thanks for reading!

Trees just starting to put on their fall colors at Seven Springs, PA

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