The backyard garden harvest and what to do with all those vegetables.


September in Winnipeg is a time of trepidation. Any minute now the temperatures could drop and the snow could fly, burying the city in drifts of the freezing white powder and forcing its citizens into bundles of wool, down, and fleece. Those of us with gardens watch the weather forcasts for frost warnings and gamble with when to harvest our backyard produce.

During the summer, we pick when stuff is ripe, nibble when hungry, or reap when we need ingredients. But just before the killing frost, we strip everything out and start canning, or freezing or giving offerings to friends and neighbours. Every year there is an abundance of tomatoes, celery, lettuce, carrots, potatoes, onions, and beans.

While harvesting and pulling up plants for composting, I invariably find a bounty of unknown crop hiding under some leaves. Most times it will be a summer squash like zucchini, and it will be the size of a canoe.

I have a friend who can’t stand zucchini and calls it “The evilest of all the vegetables” going so far as refusing baking, like cupcakes or brownies, for fear that there may be summer squash hidden in its ingredients. “There’s zucchini in that cake isn’t there? Get away from me with that moist chocolate pastry of evil!”

When I’m presented with the overflow of perishable foodstuffs, I think of one meal that will make use of the produce and offer some warmth for the harsh blizzard filled weather that is due any day; soup.

Vegetable soup is easy to make and can be made in small amounts or gargantuan batches, depending on how many evil summer squash you find hidden in the garden. I usually make large batches in a stock pot and freeze a bunch of it into single portions so it will last until the thaw next July.

The most time consuming part of this recipe is chopping the vegetables. I recommend using some sort of chopping tool (besides a knife) to save some time. A food processor chopper, a chipper, or a slap chop would probably save you some time… well maybe not a slap chop.

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I have an Alligator brand chopper and it really does the job nicely.

Garden Harvest Vegetable Soup inspired by the harsh Canadian winter.

Ingredients

3 cup, diced Celery (8 stalks)
5 cup, chopped Carrots (10 medium)
6 cup, chopped Onions (4 large)
4 cup, chopped zuchinni or summer squash (3 small or 1 giant)
2 cup, chopped string beans (20 beans)
4 cup, chopped tomatoes (6 medium)
1 cup, chopped bell peppers (1 large)
1/4 cup, olive oil
2 tsp , sea salt
2 tsp , freshly ground pepper
4 liters, your favourite vegetable broth (mine is Imagine)
4 tsp , soy sauce

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Directions

In a stock pot, sauté onion in olive oil until it sweats (about 15 mins)

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Add broth, carrots, celery, beans, zucchini. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 20 mins.

Add tomatoes, peppers, salt, pepper and soy sauce. Simmer for another 15 mins.

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(Makes 12 servings)

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This soup is such a comfort food during the winter. I just pull it out of the freezer and melt it in a pot until it’s hot, and make a grilled cheese sandwich to go with it.

Now that I have soup, I should make sure the snow shovels are sharpened and the harnesses for the cat sled are ready to go before the snow hits.

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