Undoubtedly it is fall. The crops are all out of the ground, save the hearty ones. In fact, I should be harvesting right now, but my fingers and toes have not warmed up and dried out from yesterday. Last week, I finished up the sweet potato and potato harvests. All the pepper, tomato, eggplant, squash, bean and basil plants are out of the ground, just to name a few. I am working on storing root crops in our basement to last us until the we can start growing food again. As of today, we are down to 10 hours of daylight. And yet, there are little weeds sprouting, the weeds of spring, the wild onions and dandelions. Spring radishes (did I plant them just to torture myself?) are better than ever. Delicious lettuce still growing into small, compact heads. The leafy greens are gorgeous and perfect: Lush, enormous, bug-free kale, colorful mixed Asian greens, hearty spinach, mustard greens, and sweet and spicy arugula. I have two entire beds of cabbage that I planted too late. Although I have resigned myself to the belief that they will never head up, never ever ever, they seem to taunt me by getting bigger every day and forming little bundles of tightness at their centers. This could be a spring day! Could be, but the problem is that tomorrow will be just 2 minutes shorter, not longer. Just two minutes closer to the northeast deep freeze to come. Perhaps most people in my situation would be excited about not having to farm for several months. Still, I am not quite ready for digging up stored roots, no daylight, boredom, inevitable winter weight gain (it has already begun!!!) finding a job for 4 months and all else that come with these shorter days.
Even so, the prospect of having grown enough food for our share holders through Thanksgiving and for us through the spring is very exciting. The potato harvest was better than expected. It was quite a dismal year for potatoes in the region. In July I had to flame torch all the potato plants in order to kill the late blight fungus that had overrun the foliage. Obviously that meant these potatoes did not have much time to grow numerous quantities of potatoes. We ended up with about 650 pounds, a 13:1 ratio to what we planted and about 13-15 pound per share for our CSA. Having given this good news, I must admit that I made a huge mistake when digging them up last week. Since this is my second year farming, and I don’t own a tractor, my tractor skills are mediocre at best. I put the plow on and dug straight through the bed but the plow was at the wrong angle (which is not a variable I considered when attaching the 70+ pound potato plow) and I ended up chopping a lot of potatoes in half. Chopping about 45 pounds of potatoes in half. These potatoes won’t last long, and I don’t think I should give them to our members since they won’t keep, so I suppose I have to reluctantly support my winter weight gain and eat lots of potatoes.
Though the ingredients are simple, you’ll be surprised at the flavor in this soup. It doesn’t need the milk or cream that most recipes call for. I served this with a dollop of yogurt, which was good, but not necessary at all. Serve with a simple salad or sauted greens for a supper meal.
4-5 medium potatoes, scrubbed, peeled and cubed
3 medium-small leeks
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 TBS butter or olive oil
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
generous amounts of salt and pepper
fresh parsley, dill or rosemary
finely chopped walnuts (optional)
Chop leeks into 1/4 thick pieces, the white part and green. Discard the ends and any brown parts. Rinse chopped leeks in a colander, they tend to be pretty dirty.
Heat oil or butter over medium heat in a heavy bottomed 6 quart pot. Saute leeks and garlic until fragrant and tender, about 5 minutes. Add potatoes and stir. Cover with water and stock by an inch. With the lid on, bring to a boil and then turn down the heat and simmer until the potatoes are extremely tender, anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the size of your potato cubes.
Puree the soup in batches in a food processor or a food mill with the finest plate in place. For a smooth soup, puree all of it (my preference) or puree only half if you want chunks of potato. Season with salt and a generous amount of pepper. Add more water if soup is too thick.
Reheat soup if necessary. Ladle into bowls and garnish with yogurt, chopped walnuts and the herb of your choice.