So often in our land of plenty, opening the refrigerator risks a trip to the culinary version of the Island of Misfit Toys. In keeping with the leftover theme from recent posts, a hearty soup is always a good way to provide a home for the forlorn knickknacks hanging around well past their due-date, especially when you can combine the old with the startlingly new.
Recently we signed up to get a weekly box of fruits and vegetables delivered to our door by Full Circle Farms, near Seattle. This is a modified CSA, with plenty of locally grown produce and a smattering of other items that one isn’t likely to harvest in Washington State in January—or any other month, for that matter (satsumas, anyone?)—almost all of it organic. The kids love racing to the door each Wednesday morning before school to see what the farm fairy has left us.
This system is not without its challenges, however. If you’re not on top of your game, the boxed goodies can start to accumulate. Looking through the fridge the other day I found, among other things, an old parsnip, two onion halves in separate baggies, a peeled Yukon Gold potato, and a partial head of celery that was beginning to go limp. There was also a nearly full quart of chicken stock that needed to be used immediately or chucked. To these disparate ingredients I added the beautifully robust wild watercress picked in California and some black trumpet mushrooms from the same trip.
2 – 3 tbsp butter
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 medium parsnip, chopped
1 potato, chopped
3 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 large bunch watercress, stemmed
salt and white pepper, to taste
1. In a soup pot, saute onions in butter over medium heat until slightly caramelized. Add garlic and celery and cook another few minutes until tender, then add chopped parsnip and potato and cook several more minutes.
2. Stir in stock and simmer for 15 or more minutes until parsnip and potato are tender.
3. Add the watercress, allowing it to wilt. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup. Adjust seasonings.
As a finishing touch, I made a crouton with toasted and garlic-rubbed rosemary bread covered in melted mozzarella cheese and topped with a trio of sautéed black trumpets.