Thursday, June 23, 2011

The efficiency of a summertime soup

It's what I am constantly striving for.
My mantra.
My holy grail.

It's throwing a load of dirty clothes into the washing machine before the crusties have been sufficiently cleared from my sleepy eyes if I have any hopes of winning the War on Laundry that day.

It's running errands in a specific order, avoiding left hand turns.

It's utilizing drive thrus whenever possible, so I don't have to wrestle with multiple seat belts, channel Frogger and successfully negotiate five children across a busy parking lot.

It's playing Spanish cartoons in the car so the kids can learn a second language instead of simply sitting back there giving each other noogies.
And trying not to get caught.

It's spraying some floor polish on the bottoms of their little stockinged feet and encouraging them to see just how slidy our wooden floors are.

It's serving a meal in the bathtub to the child who has difficulty getting his food-filled fork to his mouth without the entire contents winding up on the table
the floor
the wall...

Efficiency allows me to throw together meals that I know by heart because I have everything on hand.
I know which pots make the best stew, the best pancakes, and the best bacon.
{In fact, I have a pot so huge I could make all three in it at the same time.}

I know that I can leave a stew on the stove, simmering all morning, then turn off the heat, add the chopped vegetables and cover. And it will be perfect by the time we get back from the pool 3 hours later when we're so hungry that even those dirty floor polishing socks are starting to look tasty.

However, there are times where my Road to Efficiency leads to the City of Boredom.
It is the child who wears the same t-shirt and shorts for a week, watches the same 20 minute cartoon fifty times in one day, and exclusively eats Life cereal morning, noon and night, who will complain about having casserole twice in one week.

Sure, being efficient is great, but experimenting is as equally valuable.
I get it.

So looking through my CSA box I see all sorts of possibilities at first.
Zucchini pancakes with basil chive cream.
Spicy Stir Fried Chicken and greens with peanuts.
Roasted beet salad with oranges and beet greens.
Grilled pancetta-wrapped asparagus.
Parmesan cauliflower and parsley salad
Fresh pea hummus.
Strawberry ice cream.

Immediately I am shaking my head, reminding myself how ridiculous I am being.

I sort through my box and pull out all the things I recognize.
Then I add all the stuff I don't.
And I make soup.

It's the same but different every time.
Efficient AND experimental.
Sort of.
I'm sure my toughest critics will let me know.

Summertime Minestrone
*just about any vegetables will do. These happened to be what discovered in my box.

carrots -3 medium, peeled & chopped
red onion-chopped
green bell pepper- chopped
garlic- 2 cloves
chick peas
kohlrabi - peeled & diced
chicken stock - 1 carton
tomato sauce - 1 cup
whole basil leaves
summer squash-3 chopped
zucchini-3 chopped
bok choy
fresh corn
fresh peas
ditalini- al dente
salt & pepper

Start by sauteing the onion, carrots and pepper. Add  garlic (I like mine minced). Once that starts smelling really good, add the chickpeas and kohlrabi. Next comes the chicken stock, tomato sauce and basil. Let that simmer for a while (30min). Add the remaining vegetables and simmer for another 5-10 min.
Salt and pepper to taste.

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