Post Harvest Doldrums


I took these pictures a few weeks ago and they have been making me smile contentedly ever since. Ah Autumn – I love it! Last night, still dewy with delight over these still lifes, I ventured out into my sodden backyard in search of beauty and also something, anything, to harvest for dinner.

Slim pickings: nothing but these CDs. Apparently, I spent the last three weeks in denial about what was happening in the yard. Ah well. I plucked them, washed them and burnt some mournful songs onto them about the end of harvest time. But then I found a hopeful little frond of parsley and with some assistance from my stalwart rosemary shrub, I was able to plan dinner. Hey salad, who needs you? It’s soup weather anyway. I made minestrone and my daughters ate it though they are, at times, a tough crowd. I found a recipe in Fresh Flavor Fast and made several adjustments. It called for zucchini but I neither have nor want any of it. When it comes to that oblong, spongy creature I am an agnostic. I acknowledge they exist but I don’t think a relationship is possible. It also called for kidney beans but I prefer the novelty of butter beans.

If you have a hunk of parmesan rind loitering in your fridge or freezer, plop it in the soup for extra depth of flavor. And I only used Vermouth because there was no red wine open.

Late Fall Minestrone

1 Tablespoon olive oil, more or less
1 onion, finely diced
1 or 2 carrots, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 small head cabbage, shredded (I didn’t have any but I include it here because it would probably be tasty)
a couple stems of rosemary
1 14 ounce can fire-roasted tomatoes with juice
a few dashes of vermouth or red wine
32 ounces of broth – beef or vegetable
coarse salt and pepper
1 can butter beans
4 ounces ditalini, aka “little thimbles”

Heat oil over medium, add onion, carrot and garlic; cook, stirring frequently, until onion is translucent. Stir in cabbage if using, set rosemary in gently.  Add tomatoes, wine and broth, adjusting amount according to how brothy a soup you prefer. Bring to boil, reduce and simmer. Season with salt and pepper.  Cook pasta until al dente. If you have enough broth you certainly may cook the pasta in the soup. I am just never sure if I have enough broth so I err on the side of making it up separately.  Stir pasta and beans into soup. Gingerly remove rosemary.  Serve with parmesan atop if you like. And if you also have an optimistic little parsley in your yard then let it grace your bowl as well.