Seasonal Stew

Over the past three days, summer exploded over my part of North Carolina. The trees are lush, the grass is high, and the farmer’s market is sensory overload – ripe strawberries, six different kinds of greens, and oh! the asparagus. I do so love asparagus season.

What I’m excited about this week, though, is Chinese Radishes. One of my favorite stalls at the farmer’s market had a whole crate of them, so I bought a bundle. They’re sweet, they’re spicy, and they’re the cornerstone of this week’s vegan stew.

Ingredients:

  • 2 quarts water (add more as needed) (may substitute vegetable stock at this step if you prefer)
  • 4 carrots, sliced into thin rounds
  • 4 stalks celery, sliced thin
  • 3 potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1/2 c. rice
  • 2 Chinese radishes, peeled and diced
  • 1 c. chopped fresh spinach (or any other greens)
  • 3 cloves garlic, sauteed in olive oil
  • Salt, pepper, herbs to taste.

Heat water in a large soup pot. Toss in carrots and celery. Cover. Let simmer at least half an hour. Throw in potatoes and any other slow cooking vegetables you’re using. Let simmer at least another half hour. Add spinach, radishes, rice, garlic, salt, pepper, herbs. Let cook covered for another half hour (minimum) or until rice appears cooked. Add water as needed.

Not vegan? Neither am I, but I’m trying to eat more vegan meals. You, however, can saute your garlic in butter, and season your stew with Parmesan cheese just before you serve it. Not vegetarian? You can start your soup with chicken stock instead of water for a heartier taste. For my part, the Chinese radishes imparted a nice spicy taste that I very much enjoyed. May you do the same!

This is a basic soup – there are very few vegetables you can’t add into it, which makes it great for using up all the weird stuff you have left over from the farmer’s market. Add slow cooking veggies (like hard squash) at the same stage as the potatoes; add fast cooking veggies (like kale) during the last step.

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