Augusts ago, we hosted reunions with college friends and their young families in Friendship, Maine. At least once during the week all the children and an adult or two would go down to the large sea-side garden and harvest whatever was ready. A special treat was to wash just pulled sweet carrots in icy salt water and eat at least one each on the way back to the house. A large pot with a healthy pour of olive oil would be set on the stove to heat whilst we started chopping onions, carrots, beans, chard, tomatoes, and herbs for a big batch of “Friendship Soup.” Kids will eat just about any food they have a hand in making. When one extends that to planting and picking, the range of vegetables they’ll try explodes.
The Portland Farmers’ Market in Deering Oaks was filled with stands selling fresh vegetables and blueberries last Saturday. Selecting small carrots, dusty having just been harvested, beautiful heirloom tomatoes, and beets, and radishes, and beans reminded me of friends and family we love seeing in August. Shop for, or pick, vegetables growing locally, put a pot on the stove and reach for the olive oil. Your friends will be delighted to share the soup.
Friendship Soup – Serves 6 – easily doubled or tripled
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 2 more for processing the potato
1 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon dried oregano or 3 tablespoons fresh
1 -2 cups chopped carrots (if possible, use small ones that can be cut into disks)
2 cloves garlic (the ones from the market had freshly pulled roots)
1 cup chopped celery or 1 tablespoon celery seed
2 cups chopped tomato
2 cups chopped chard or beet greens, even the stems if tender enough
4 cups chopped cabbage
1 yellow potato, peeled and boiled until really soft
4 cups water
Salt and pepper
Lemon juice to taste
1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over a medium heat Add the onions, celery, and oregano and cook until they begin to soften.
2. Add the carrots and garlic and continue cooking until the onions turn golden.
3. Add the water, tomatoes, chard, and cabbage and continue cooking at a simmer until all the vegetables are cooked through, about 30 minutes.
4. In a food processor, blend the potato, 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 teaspoon salt until the potato forms a thick, creamy ball. Add the potato mixture to the soup and whisk until it’s consistently incorporated. Season with lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.
Everybody is going to be happy about this!