One of the first posts I wrote on this site chronicled a simple, hearty, skillet meal eaten over the Christmas holidays, and paired with leftovers of a real-food take on my family’s Christmas Eve tradition, chile relleno casserole. Though today we are again going to play the “what’s in the fridge” game, or more particularly, the “what’s in the fridge, pantry, and garden” game, we are at quite a distance from the holidays. “Evidence?” You’d ask, if you were dumb or lived in a different hemisphere. Look no further:
Today, monstrously busy with garden upkeep in addition to contract work and the management of a burgeoning doula career, I did what I typically do for lunch, when I remember to eat it and I don’t feel like salad. I particularly needed, today, the nourishment of some bone broth I had in the fridge, but didn’t necessarily want soup. A go-to in this case is often a quickly whipped-up Thai curry, but we had already eaten that this week. So I took stock of the garden and the pantry, and modeling myself after a kitchen ritual of David Tanis’ in his wonderful book Heart of the Artichoke, made sort of a soup-like, veggie-filled, hearty bowl of stuff.
Okay, so it pretty much looks like soup. It tasted like soup, too, all right?! But it felt different and the ritual of the thing was different, at least in my mind. Whatever. It was great and there are now leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch and Joe’s dinner tonight while I am out with girlfriends. And what’s more, I have eaten of the bounty of my land(lord’s land) and that feels satisfying. I think it kicks up the flavor a few notches to have produced the goods yourself. It has what my canning guru Marisa McClellan calls an “air of virtuousness,” if nothing else.
You know what? Just try it. Odds are you’ll like it as well as I did, without all the grating analysis found above. And by all means, feel free to use the “what’s in the fridge” model yourself – the veggies don’t have to be collards and carrots and the herb doesn’t have to be basil. What you’ve got around will likely do very nicely with the flavor profile here.
Spring veggie soup (I guess)
Handful scallions, minced
Several cloves garlic, minced
2 slices pasture bacon, diced
Half a yellow onion, sliced
More minced garlic
Large bunch collard greens, chiffonaded
One to several carrots, peeled and sliced
Fresh herbs (I used basil)
1 can great northern beans, drained
2 C. dried whole grain pasta
1 C. canned tomatoes with their juices
Splash dry vermouth
Juice of half a lemon
A pinch aleppo pepper
A shake paprika
A pinch celtic sea salt
4 C. broth
Into a soup pot, toss the first three ingredients, fry until crispy, and then set aside, leaving the rendered bacon fat in the pan. Add the next six ingredients and cook over medium heat until the onion is translucent and the carrots are tender. Add the rest of the ingredients, turn up the heat, and cook until the pasta is al dente and has absorbed a good bit of the liquid.
Season to taste, remove from heat, and serve immediately, topping with the reserved crispy bacon, scallions, and garlic – and more fresh basil, if you’d like! A mini-glug of full-fat milk, yogurt, or cream would not go amiss here, as well.
Happy springtime, and happy resourceful eating to you!