Deep Fall + Garden Minestrone Soup

by Wendy

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Rain intermittently spatters on window panes, as fat drops cling desperate to branches only to be snatched away by gusts of icy wind.  Gratitude fills and warms from within for the deep fall garden.  Roots and kept summer squash mingle with darkly vibrant cruciferous vegetables creating a rainbow of color that is the deep fall garden.

Each day I stand on the dark, cold earth, and wonder at the abundance of the season.  Wide-eyed with awe I notice that it looks different than the summer garden–it feels different.  Good, yet different.  Frozen fingers quickly and numbly cut kale, broccoli, purple cauliflower, as shovel, feet, and sometimes hands unearth the treasures that lie below the earth.  The damp soil clumping cold holds the bounty that lies stored, while frosts and icy rains penetrate from above.  Carrots in jewel tones, beets blood red, potatoes with all seeing eyes wait quietly for their eminent emerging.

The deep tastes of earthy vegetables call for the making of soup to nourish body and soul as seasons march diligently into each other.  Colorful minestrone laced with late fall vegetables mingling with handmade spicy italian sausage bubbles and brews a deeply nurturing bowl.

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Garden Minestrone Soup

 1 1/2 lbs. spicy italian sausage

1/4c. extra virgin olive oil

1 small onion, (1/2c.)

3-4 large cloves garlic, crushed and minced

2c. carrots, sliced thin

2c. summer squash– zucchini, yellow summer squash, patty pan, etc.

1c. broccoli florets

1c. cauliflower florets

2c. kale, stems removed, and chopped

1 1/2c. cabbage, sliced thin

1 quart prepared chicken stock

2 quarts water

1 small can tomato paste (6oz)

2 c. soaked and cooked white beans- navy, great northern, cannellini, etc.

1 T. dried basil

salt + pepper to taste

In a heavy cast iron skillet, brown sausage until well cooked.  Set aside.

In large stockpot (6-8 quart size), pour in extra virgin olive oil and heat over medium high heat until fragrant.  Add onion, and garlic, sauté until translucent, 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently so it doesn’t brown.

Add carrots, summer squash, broccoli and cauliflower florets, continue to sauté along with the onions and garlic, stirring frequently until vegetables are tender,  5-6 min.

Pour prepared chicken stock over vegetable sauté, add water and tomato paste.

 Stir in cooked sausage, white beans, basil, and salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to a boil.

Once boiling, reduce heat to medium-medium low, add prepared kale and cabbage, stir and simmer until wilted, 5 minutes.

Remove from heat, ladle hot soup into bowls, and enjoy the bounty!