Monday, November 02, 2015

Winter Is Coming Garden Soup

Growing vegetables in a small plot, or in windowsill boxes, is easy, cheap, and very gratifying. In Tel Aviv, I grew herbs in boxes on my balcony; in El Cerrito, I had a little plot in the back yard. Here in Mission Terrace we grow vegetables all around the garden, surrounded by flowers and, sometimes, by curious cats. But one of our favorite vegetable growing spots is in the L-shaped plot around our house. We don't have, never have, and never will have, a lawn; instead, we have fruit trees and a variety of California natives (the yerba buena is particularly aromatic and gladdens our neighbors; several of them have mentioned how much they like to walk by and smell our plants). The advantage of natives, beyond their beauty, is their adaptive nature; they deal better with the drought than other plants, and certainly better than water-intensive lawns, many of which are now dry in California.

[As an aside, brown lawns have become a bit of a status symbol in the Bay Area, n'est ces pas? It saddens me a bit that we're engaging in these showy water-saving displays when eating plants in lieu of animal products is the single most meaningful and important step everyone can take to save water. Eating a burger--one burger--is the equivalent of showering for two months straight. I wish the powers-that-be were less preoccupied with placating this cruel industry; if all Californians refrained from eating meat, dairy, and eggs on a fairly regular basis, much of these brown-is-the-new-green dramatics would be unnecessary.]

But back to the vegetables. Surrounded by flowers we have a vegetable plot in which we grow seasonal produce. In the picture you can see a colander full of freshly picked chard and kale (several varieties of each.) There is so much that can be done with them, but yesterday's drizzle called for some soup, so here it is:

1 pound chard, kale, and other green vegetables
1 sweet potato
1 potato
4 celery stalks
1/2 onion
1 cup Pomi or other canned tomato product (or fresh tomatoes)
Herbs de Provence to taste
(if you have any) 2 tbsp dried vegetable soup mix

Slice and dice vegetables and place in pot with Pomi, herbs, and dried vegetables. Cover with water and cook for 45 minutes.

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