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A fresh take on soup & salad

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If you haven’t yet visited one of the area’s farmers markets this year, peak season is upon us. Each week is filled with plentiful variety — the greens are tender, herbs abundant, and the onions and zucchini are juicy.

Produce at the market is as tasty as ever, thanks in large part to the generous amount of rain our region has received this summer. Even in my home garden I’ve had more success with onions than in any previous garden in recent family memory. I harvested so many scallions, or green onions, that I had to come up with some creative uses so none went to waste.

One night I made savory scallion pancakes to accompany homemade moo shu pork. Another day I spent a few hours in the kitchen slicing away and freezing pint-sized bags of ready-chopped scallions for winter stews. The onions have been fantastic taco toppings and salad additions.

Inspired by the onions, I came up with a light and easy summer cream soup recipe that would easily partner well with any fresh lettuces, though upon taking stock of a recent CSA box I opted to make a three-bean salad, instead.

Three-bean salad, a staple at many backyard summer barbeques, is noted for its sweet and tangy dressing and squeaky beans. With a little fun substituting you can really put your own mark on the final product. The day I made the salad I didn’t have a couple of key ingredients on hand: sweet red pepper and kidney beans. The black bean and radish green substitutions I made were successful and had good reviews from my family, the 3-year-old included.

If you opt to tackle these recipes in your kitchen, consider what diced fresh veggies you might be able to toss in to give your soup or salad a taste of your own character. Summer squash, cherry tomatoes, a little red cabbage, or julienned carrots could give your salad just enough of a twist to prompt people to ask for seconds ... or even thirds ... at your next backyard dinner event. Enjoy!

Claudia Broman lives and writes in Litchfield. Learn more at claudiabroman.com.

3 Bean & Radish Green Salad

2 cups black beans (cooked & cooled or canned & drained)

2 cups garbanzo beans/chickpeas (cooked & cooled or canned & drained)

2 cups green beans (cooked & cooled or canned & drained)

1 medium red onion, chopped

1 bunch radish greens

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup white vinegar

1/2 cup (very scant) sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspon black pepper

3 radishes, optional

Clean well and steam the radish greens. Cool and chop off the stems. Mince the greens and place them in a large bowl. Add oil, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. Mix well. Add onion, mix again. Add beans, mix again. For extra zip add 3 fresh radish bulbs, diced. Chill & serve. It is best if it sits a couple of hours in the refrigerator before eating.

Spring Onion Soup

3 cups spring onions/scallions, thinly sliced (about 2 bunches)

1 pound mushrooms, sliced

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 stick butter

4 tablespoon flour

4 cups chicken or vegetable broth

water to taste

1/2 cup cream or Half and Half

salt and pepper to taste

Sauté onions, mushrooms, garlic, butter in soup pot or Dutch oven until onions are wilted; about 3-5 minutes. Add flour until all is coated. Slowly stir in broth.

Simmer for 20 minutes, or until bubbling but not boiling.

Let cool a bit, then use an immersion blender or process the soup in a food processor until smooth.

Move back to the soup pot and add cream, salt and pepper.

Simmer until warmed through and serve.

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