21 October 2011
My weekly farmers market trips are no formal affair. Casual and lackadaisical is how I would describe the two plus hours I spend perusing the aisles, mingling with friends and dishing with farmers. It’s my social hour[s]. Sure, I spend most of it picking out the highest quality, in season and deliciously tasting foods I can, but it’s all about the people. The connection. To my food and the folks who grow it.
Being a farmer is hard work. Long hours. No vacation days. No calling in sick. It’s hard enough to drag myself out of bed to get to the market in time to hear the bell ring. I can’t imagine what it must be like to wake up at four in the morning to pack the truck, drive to market, setup the stand, sell for a few hours, tear it down and drive home so that you can get back to, you guessed it, farming.
I am thankful. Immensely. Without the local farmers that I have a relationship with, I would be lost. Besides, I can’t even navigate a grocery store anymore. Who can figure out what to buy when there’s so many options and no one to talk about them with? When was this picked? What heirloom variety do you have today? Have you prepared these on the grill or do you prefer slow roasting?
I am dependent on these friends of mine one hundred percent. Without Tom, Barbara, Shu, Marcie, Shawn, Jacob, John, Nate, Elizabeth, and B.D., I would not eat as well as I do, nor be as healthful as I am. And I certainly would not have this absolutely amazing bowl of soup.
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 small bulb fennel, trimmed and chopped
3 leeks, trimmed and chopped
3-4 carrots, diced
1/2 butternut squash, diced
1 cup dry navy beans*
4-5 tomatoes, pureed
1 bunch escarole, coarsely chopped
8 cups water or homemade chicken stock
1 tbsp real butter, clarified butter [ghee] or heat stable fat
1 tbsp herbs de provence
celtic sea salt
In a large, heavy pot with a lid, heat the fat over medium heat. Add the onion, leek and fennel and saute until translucent and slightly caramelized.
Add the carrots, butternut squash, beans and herbs de provence. Stir to combine.
Add the water and shelling beans. Cover, raise to a boil and lower to a simmer. Cook covered for 20-30 minutes or until beans are done. You may have to cook the beans longer if you did not soak them.
When the beans are almost done, stir in the escarole and tomato puree. Season with sea salt as needed.
Remove from heat and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes.
Enjoy alone, with crusty buttered bread or homemade grilled cheese.
*If you are able, soak your beans overnight or for at least four hours with 1 tbsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. This makes the beans easier to digest and their nutrients better absorbed.