Except for me it's Melancholy! Melancholy with a slice of nostalgia! Anger! Self-pity! Overwhelming joy!
It's exhausting. And, in exhaustion, it's wise to turn to Matzo Ball Farmer's Market soup. I once blogged about clean out your fridge soup. Tonight I'm going to tell you what was on our table this evening.
I'm not going to lie. The Farmer's Market can be expensive for us. But to sum up what I feel about food these days, I'm going to quote Alice Waters in the introduction to her book, The Art of Simple Food. (I've just started reading it and I love it.)
"Good food can only come from good ingredients. Its proper price includes the cost of preserving the environment and paying fairly for the labor of the people who produce it. Food should never be taken for granted."
We have a lot of poorly produced food available to us at very low prices. And that is a tempting thing. But one small thing I've learned while in India is that self-denial can be a huge key to appreciation. So if we eat less meat and ice cream and more beans and so are able to afford locally grown vegetables, that little bit of self-denial allows us to support small farmers. And take care of our waistlines, which will thank us for less meat and ice cream. And we then appreciate meat day when it comes around, that much more.
Anyhow. One lesson I've learned about Farmer's Market is that there are a wide variety of costs presented. There are exquisite chocolates and divine honey. Those are treats... oh my word, the honey is good. But if you're going on a budget, well 80 cents a bunch for kale is not a bad price at all. Kale, summer squash, lettuce, tomatoes, potatoes... you can find really good prices from excellent farms.
Tonight I made Matzo ball soup with leftover chicken bones and an armful of farmer's market summer vegetables. It was divine. I didn't measure anything or take photos of the process, but here is the general idea:
I started off by simmering the chicken bones in water for a long time. A few hours, and then straining the bones out of the broth.
My players for simple food (food that is perhaps influenced by European cooking but doesn't necessarily ascribe to any particular country) are:
No surprises there. What makes soup fantastic, in my mind, is sautéing everything first. Onions, garlic, vegetables, spices. Tonight I started with the onions and sautéed them until they were soft, added the garlic and cooked it for a minute or so more. I then added the following vegetables, one by one, stirring and cooking in between:
2 stalks of celery
1 yellow zucchini
1 large fresh tomato
1 stalk of broccoli
and added salt and pepper. When the vegetables were firm but cooked, I added them to the broth and undertook the task of getting the tiny bits of chicken that were still left off of the bones and into the pot. This is really annoying. I hate that part.
I opened the pack of Matzo ball mix and thanked God once again for his People and the gift of Matzo balls. Putting together the mix was super easy, just eggs and oil and the mix, left to stand for fifteen minutes. While it was standing, I chopped a bunch of kale and added it to the soup, as well as making a chiffonade of a few basil leaves (the herb of the day) from my plant. I turned the soup up and let it really boil for dropping the matzo balls in.
Done! Beautiful, delicious, affordable, delicious, and delicious! But these players can be used with any vegetables you find to make a really good soup. Maybe you use green zucchini, maybe you throw purple cabbage in, maybe you use fresh thyme instead of basil.
I can't wait to make it again.
P.S. Here's a post that I wrote at around this time last year.