The Seasoned Franciscan - Cooking Joyfully

Hearty Root Vegetable Soup and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

By Vicki Lopez-Kaley on Monday, January 22nd 2024

2T  olive oil
1 C yellow onion, diced
1 C celery, diced (2 stalks)
1 C carrot, diced (2-3 whole carrots)
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 C parsnip, diced (1 small)
½ pound Yukon gold (Russet or Sweet) potatoes, approximately 2, diced
½ pound turnip or rutabaga, 1 medium, diced
1 C leek, sliced (optional)
2 tsp fresh rosemary or 2/3 tsp dried
2 tsp fresh thyme or 2/3 tsp dried
pinch red pepper flakes
¼ tsp white pepper (optional)
salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
¼ tsp dried sage
1 bay leaf
4 C vegetable broth, chicken stock or water
2 C kale or spinach, chopped
½ lemon, freshly squeezed or 1 T bottled lemon juice

Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add onion, celery, carrot, and saute for 4-5 minutes. Add garlic and continue to saute for 1 minute. Then add the rosemary, thyme, red pepper flakes, pepper, and sage, cook for 1 minute.
Add parsnip and potato and continue to cook for 3-4 minutes. Don’t stir too often so that they have a chance to caramelize. Add the turnip or rutabaga and leek (if using), cooking for 2-3 minutes, then add broth (or water) and bring to a simmer with bay leaf.
Keep uncovered and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the veggies are tender (depending on how small you cut them, the time will vary). Add salt throughout, taste-testing to be sure you have the right amount. The potatoes will absorb quite a bit of salt, so you’ll likely add more than expected.
With a few minutes left, add the kale/spinach (if using) and allow it to wilt. Remove the bay leaf and stir in a squeeze of lemon before serving. Optional: puree half of the soup with an immersion blender. Garnish with fresh parsley, croutons, or Parmesan, as desired.

Root Vegetables: 
In winter, root vegetables can keep a long time, if stored in a cool, dark, dry place.  Some farm families kept them for months after harvest in root cellars or basement stashes.  They are versatile and can be sauteed in soups, roasted, boiled, mashed, steamed, pureed or braised in stock, wine or beer.  Most root vegetables can be deep-fried or eaten raw or blanched with dip.  Leafy tops like turnip and beet greens are full of nutrients. Root veggies provide fiber, vitamins, and savory or sweet flavor.  Try glazing them with butter and maple syrup or in a gratin with cheesy bread crumb topping!  Rutabagas (called swedes outside the US) also add a distinctive flavor to Cornish Pasties famous in Cornwall and northern Michigan mining towns!

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Story:  Community Supported Agriculture
This is the time of year when root veggies are in season and it's time to consider buying a share in a local farm!  The Community Supported Agriculture (or CSA) movement provides a way for eaters to get fresh, seasonal and often organic produce and proteins from a local farm and “put a face” on their food.  It is a fulfilling way to build a relationship with those who provide, veggies, eggs, poultry and meats and to support the local farm economy and ecosystem.  Read on for more information and how to find a farmer that suits you!

A CSA share is a subscription.  A subscriber provides up-front cash to a local farmer.  This investment enables the farmer to finance what is needed to produce healthy, often organic crops, flocks or cattle for the next season of production.  In return, subscribers receive a regular share of what is grown.  The farmer and the eater share both benefits and risks associated with growing food. CSA farmers are often very flexible about what you want to receive in your share.

My Google search for “local csa farms” produced results for at least 7 other farms in the La Crosse area with evocative names like:  Small Family Farm, Harmony Valley Farm, Growing Point Farm, Inch by Inch Organic,  One named Deep Roots Community Farm in La Crosse, provides apples, beef, horse boarding and educational events.  They tell me that beef shares are paid in fall for a Jan/Feb harvest.  Others provide produce, pork, poultry, eggs.  Featherstone Farm in Rushford, MN provides produce to The People’s Coop and other retail and individual subscribers in the area.  You can also search for Winter Farmer's Markets in Wisconsin or wherever you live.

When we subscribed to a CSA, our first CSA “box” or share included spring greens, and later summer squash, garlic, tomatoes, herbs, berries and whatever was ripe at the time on our list of “likes”.  The farm provided recipes that helped us use what the land provided.  It was a welcome and tasty challenge.  Later, we teamed up with an egg producer and then a young couple who raises chickens that taste like chicken!  We got to visit the farm, develop a friendship, and get turkey and turkey eggs from their efforts!  So, if you don’t grow your own, check out one of the many farms who offer shares in flexible sizes and contents that can satisfy your taste and commitment to eating well from the local food system. 

Attached is an article adapted from Asparagus tp Zucchini: A Guide to Cooking Farm=Fresh Seasonal Produce by John Henrikson and Mary Ostrum of the Madison's Fairshare CSA Coalition a site that also provides a way to Find a Farm anywhere in the lower 48 states. Another good read is "Finding Turtle Farm: The story of starting and running an organic farm", written by Angela Tedesco who owned one of the first Community Supported Agriculture operations in the Upper Midwest.

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Fawn Says:
02/02/2024 8:24pm
Excellent post. I certainly love this site. Keep writing!

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