As we leave February, I am taking stock of my stores, particularly the vegetables I froze last summer. I try to exhaust my “put up” winter provisions by the time the stalks of asparagus begin to poke through the newly warmed earth. Gone already is all the okra, pumpkin and peppers that found their way into freezer bags in October. My inventory list shows I have to play with poblanos, corn, tomatoes, pinto beans and the pestos still in residency in my chest freezer. Not bad given that the hardest months are just about behind me, which leaves me having to negotiate April with a minimum of local/backyard possibilities.
This weekend also marks an appointment with a seed outlet that I plan to visit. I need germinating medium, slow release fertilizer as well as seeds. English shelling peas need to get in the ground in the next few weeks while there is still a chill in order to have them flower and pod before it gets too warm – as if that will happen this year! It is so hard to think a spring harvest or summer bounty while a cashmere scarf is still looped around my neck day and night. What is not difficult is to notice thetenacity of weeds, which cannot be thwarted frost, ice, snow, and diminished light. So, with visible signs of my breath, I am out there tugging at the hardened ground tearing the roots of invasive interlopers in the hopes that when spring finally arrives my work will be lessened.
Chick Pea and Corn Soup – yields 8 servings
1-cup dried chick peas
1-large onion - diced
3-garlic cloves - chopped
1-medium carrot – peeled and diced
4-stalks celery – diced
2-teaspoons ground coriander
¾-pound yucca – peeled and diced
2-cups corn kernels – fresh or frozen
½-cup Italian parsely – chopped
½-cup cilantro – chopped
2-quarts - vegetable stock
Salt and freshly ground pepper
¼-cup fresh lemon juice ( from approx. a lemon)
Place the chick peas in a bowl and cover with 1-quart of water. Allow the chick peas sit at room temperature for about 8 hours. Then drain.
Place the chick peas into a 1-quart saucepan, and cover with 3-cups of water. Bring to the boil over a high flame, then reduce to low. Simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat.
In a 6 or 8 quart pot place the onions, garlic, carrot and celery, and over a medium flame cooking until the onions start to wilt – stirring occassionally and 15 minutes. Mix in the coriander and yucca to thoroughly disbruse. Then add in the corn, parsely, cilantro and stock and drained chick peas bringing the mixture to a boil. Reduce the flame to low, and simmer for 1½ to 2 hours, covered. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice.