Winter Vegetable Chowder

Adapted from Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen

My brother-in-law, Mark Ducey, has a talent for taking healthy recipes and turning them into something decidedly less so, but substantially more delicious. Here is his riff on Deborah Madison’s Winter Vegetable Chowder. To make it vegetarian, use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.

1) Place in a saucepan:

  • 3 cups milk or half & half
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme.
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 12 black peppercorns

Bring to a boil then set aside to steep.

2) Wash, peel (as needed) and slice into ½-inch by 1 1/2 inch chunks:

  • 4 large leeks
  • 3 cups carrots
  • 3 cups potatoes
  • 3 cups parsnips
  • 6 ribs celery

3) Heat ½ stick of butter in a large soup pot. Add veggies from step two, plus 2 bay leaves, 1 ½ tsp. thyme, ½ tsp. lavender, ½ tsp. tarragon. Heat 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4) Sprinkle the veggies with ¼ cup flour, toss, then add 4 cups chicken stock and 4 cups water. Cover and cook 20-25 minutes.

5) While veggies cook, melt some butter on a cast-iron griddle and grill slices of crusty bread on both sides. Place one slice in the bottom of each serving bowl and cover with grated gruyere.

6) When veggies are tender, strain milk from step 1 into a blender. Add 1 1/2 cups of veggies from the soup and puree. Return puree to pot.

7) Check soup and season to taste with salt and white pepper. Ladle over bread in bowls and serve.

Notes: Fresh herbs (quantity adjusted) would be better if available. I used whole milk; half and half would be better and whipping cream would be ideal.  Should have garnished with fresh thyme sprigs if they were not under the snow.


Openings Available In Salem

While the Marblehead and Melrose Depots are full from our waiting lists, there are still openings available at the Salem Depot. So if you are hoping to get in on the 2011 season, or have friends who are, sign up right now using this link.

Congratulations To Our Bread Share Winner!

Congratulations to Aimee Servideo, who picks up on Thursdays at the Salem Depot. She was the lucky winner of a full-season bread share during the raffle at our annual meeting, and will be enjoying breads from A&J King Artisan Bakers and Iggy’s Bread of the World almost every week. Other meeting attendees went home with organic local jam, organic local honey, spices from The Herb Farmacy and even cheese. Click here to see some great photos from the meeting.

Welcome Our New Main Growers

By Julie Pottier-Brown, FDC Manager

We would like to welcome our new main growers, Riverland Farm, a 25-acre certified organic vegetable operation on the banks of the Connecticut River in Sunderland, Mass. Over the many years of evolving from the Marblehead Eco-Farm CSA to the Farm Direct Coop, we have had several “main” growers. Originally a Coop of six families who found a backyard grower in West Newbury, the Marblehead Eco-Farm membership eventually grew and found Dick Rosenburg of Middle Earth Farm in Amesbury (He still farms organically and can be found at the Marblehead farmer’s market in the summer). When Dick could no longer keep up with the demand, the co-founders posted a note at the NOFA-MA winter conference looking for a new farmer for their growing CSA. DeWitt Thompson answered the call. He farmed in western Mass., and was willing to deliver halfway. Jen Mix ran the Coop back then, and she drove the truck out to Littleton to meet Dewitt, and transfer the veggies.

A few years later, when I had taken over, Dewitt agreed to deliver all the way to Marblehead. Our Coop was bigger, so the sales were larger, so it made sense. About five years ago, DeWitt and his partners in the Happy Valley Growers Cooperative decided to drop all their markets, and sell only to large operations. That sent us looking for another new main grower.

Dewitt had talked to Jenny and Bruce Wooster of Picadilly Farm briefly at the end of the fall season. We had a relationship with them already, as Jenny was the first grower who started the Appleton Farms CSA program in Ipswich. We knew each other and we started a new chapter. Now in their fifth year of growing in southeastern New Hampshire, the Woosters have decided to focus more on their own CSA, and our Tuesday/Thursday pick ups interfere with their need to harvest for their off-site CSA pick ups. So, we found ourselves in the position of needing someone to crop plan for us. Luckily, Jenny and Bruce talked to Robert Lynch of Riverland Farm in Sunderland on our behalf.

Says the Riverland web site: “We grow over 60 different vegetable crops and 140 different varieties. All the food we grow is purchased and consumed within 75 miles of the farm. We are passionate about growing affordable, high quality, chemical free produce for local communities.” In 2010, Rob supplied garlic and the first cantaloupes, in addition to Brussels sprouts for the past two years, and other varied crops. His quality and attention to detail is superb, his prices are fair, and he is as excited about working with us as we are about working with him.

Rob is planning on coming to the Annual Meeting later this month – please come with questions and good wishes for a successful 2011 season!



Annual Meeting Root Soup

Steve Fowler, one of our FDC drivers, and his wife Molly brought this delicious soup to our annual meeting and it was a big hit! Here’s what they said about it: “We store a fair amount of vegetables every winter.  This is a recipe I came up with that goes great on a winter day and is easily adapted to what we have on hand – It turns out a little different every time, but is always worth the effort.  The following is just a guideline – use what you have.  It takes a couple of hours, but is easy, and you can walk away once everything is in the pot.

Start with:

2-3 onions (if you have leeks or shallots sitting in the back of the fridge, even better)
3 carrots,
2 celery stalks,
3-4 garlic
maybe a green pepper

Give them a rough chop and throw them in the pot with a good shot of olive oil – low heat and let them sweat while you prepare the rest.  Then peel and cube:

1 or 2 winter squash
2-3 Lbs. potatoes
2-3 Lbs. Sweet Potatoes
2 or 3 Celeriac Heads
1 Turnip or Rutabaga
3 or 4 Apples
A handful of herbs (dry or fresh – I like to use sage, rosemary, thyme)
A couple bay leaves

Add to the pot and just cover with water.  Bring to boil and turn back to a simmer until tender (about an hour).
Use a stick blender to puree (can be done in a food processor or mash for a course texture).
Salt and pepper to taste.
Add 1-2 cups cream or half & half.

Replacing some of the water with chicken stock or adding a couple handfuls of parmesan will make it a little richer, or if you save your cheese rinds – throw a couple in and remove right before pureeing.