Leek, Fennel and Potato Soup

Leek, Potato and Fennel Goodness: (photos from Wikipedia)

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Leeks are a popular fall vegetable and I love them. Add some fennel and I am in heaven. I make a large batch, freeze it, can it, or most of the time, we just eat it for a week. This is one of my favorites! Here is a simple recipe.

Leeks (2-4) I use almost all of the leek, I don’t throw the green part away, just trim the edges. Make sure to wash the leek well, dirt finds its way all the way through the layers.

I or two fennel bulbs, depending on the size and your love for the vegetable

2 medium size potatoes

Water or broth of your choice

Chop everything up (doesn’t have to be finely chopped). Pour enough liquid (water or broth) to cover the bottom of the pot (2 cups or so) and bring it up to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down and let it simmer for a while until all vegetables are very tender. Cool and blend. It will be delicious at this point. Paul often thinks of this soup as baby food. To make it more hearty and adult like, I chop up the potato (versus blending it), add a bit of cream (or sour cream), add chopped hard boiled egg and garnish with a sharp cheese. Yum, my mouth is watering. You can freeze the soup (without adding the dairy) or you can chop up the veggies and process the in a caner at 11 pounds for an hour in pint jars or 75 minutes in quart jars. When you are craving the soup later, just pop the can open, blend, add whatever tickles your fancy and devour!

Enjoy!  What is your leek soup recipe?

Fall Soups!!

Tis’ the season to enjoy some hearty fall soups. Through the next week, I will be posting our family’s favorite soup recipes. These are all of my “own” recipes, so I apologize for the lack of precise measurements (I am not good at cooking that way). If there is something you don’t like, leave it out or substitute it. If on the contrary, there is something you love–double the amount, especially if it is bacon, you can never have too much bacon!! Almost all of the soups I share can be easily made vegetarian or vegan.

Butternut Squash Soup:

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Squash are everywhere this season–stock up, they keep well and make delicious soups and compliment other dishes well!

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Not all squashes are created equal–I personally only use butternut, red kuri and blue hubbard squashes for soup. I love delicata, acorn and kabocha squashes but in my opinion, those are better roasted.

1 or 2 Butternut squashes, depending on size and the amount of desired soup, seeded and gutted. Chickens go nuts for this stuff! Also, squash and pumpkin seeds can be washed and roasted or dried for planting next year.

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2-3 medium potatoes

1-2 medium carrots

Chicken broth (or veggie broth or water) This really depends on the amount of squash you have.  if you are blending, and you have used up all your broth, add water to make the blending experience easier.

Bacon (optional, add as much or as little as you wish)

Roast the squash, carrots and potatoes at 350 degrees until they get soft. In the meantime, in the pot you will be cooking your soup, cook the bacon. Get it to the consistency you enjoy (super crunchy for me), remove the bacon pieces (don’t worry, you will use for topping the dish, when serving) leaving the fat trimmings in the pot. Once the vegetables are soft to a poke with a knife, place them in the bacon pot and cover with chicken broth (I often use water). There should be enough broth (or water) to have the veggies float. Cook until the veggies are super soft. Cool and blend. Because I add potatoes, my soups are creamy enough for us, therefore I do not add cream. If for some reason you don’t like potatoes, remove them and add cream…or not, and enjoy it as is. Once blended, I place the soup back into the pot and stick into the fridge overnight. Before serving it, I skim off all the fat (from the bacon). Doing this, I remove A LOT of fat but I am keeping that bacon-y flavor. Heat the soup up and serve. Garnish with bacon bits and roasted pumpkin seeds.

Easy and delicious!  Please stay tuned, as I have many more recipes to follow!  Finally, we are getting around to using our “Recipe” tab 🙂

Challenge accepted–We are ready for winter!

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The garden is getting ready to hibernate for the winter.  We harvested the last of the squashes and two handsome pumpkins that surprised us as volunteers this year.  We also picked the remainder of our shelling beans that were left to dry on the vine.

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The chickens are going through a seasonal change and have decreased egg production.  The six meat birds that we still have will go into the freezer soon and we welcomed a new flock of egg layers to the homestead.  Come spring they should be ready to lay, which will allow us to harvest six more for the freezer and gradually replace our entire flock with younger-more productive layers.  I am a bit sad since I got somewhat attached to our first flock.  Chicoletta, my favorite hen,  will remain with  us until old age–she is more of a dog really!  The rest our birds are very well cared for and highly respected but they are viewed as a food source and not pets.

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I winterized the chicken coop by cleaning it out thoroughly and added two bales of straw for the “deep litter” method.  This is the first year we will try this method. It is appealing because it is very hands off (although we should add a bit more hay once in a while), it keeps the girls warm during winter and in the spring, their bedding will be wonderful organic compost that is almost ready to go into the garden.  I say almost because it still needs to “cook” to kill all the bugs.  We will let it sit in a pile and spread it during the fall, so it will add all the nutrients to the soil but there will be enough time for any potential pathogens die.

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We also found a purpose for our old coop–hay storage.  It is super secure, so no critters can play house in it and it has so much ventilation that it should remain fungus and mold free, we hope!

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One big project we hope to accomplish in 2015 is fencing the front yard. We hope to accomplish this in a few weeks, which will allow the chicken ladies the ability  to “free range” in our garden, and help us clean up the yard and get it ready for its winter slumber.

We have had a busy summer cooking, canning and fermenting. The pantry is stocked and so is the freezer.  With exception for an occasional mushroom hunting trip here and there, our food preservation season is over.  It has been a good year for us.  The garden was very generous and our CSA and the farmstead were plentiful.

Paul and I decided to challenge ourselves and eat only what we preserved.  Starting October, our shopping trips will be limited to buying milk, broccoli and apples–staples our children can not live without.  Paul and I will shop from our pantry.  We already opened a can of beans to make my version of huevos rancheros–yum!

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It will be a neat challenge for a few reasons.  First, we can see if we preserved enough.  It will be interesting to know when we will get low on our supply. Secondly, It will help us to prepare better for next year.  I am a bit terrified that we will be eating a lot of canned zucchini salad.  So being creative with meal planning will be the key.  Last but not least, it will allow us to experience “self reliant” living a bit more.

A few other changes/goals we hope to accomplish  during the winter season is to use our wood stove more for heating, to hand make most if not all of our Christmas gifts and learn a few more skills/crafts.  Paul has been intrigued by leather working–shoe making specifically.  I am a bit curious also, I have a pattern for super cute knitted/leather slippers that I am itching to make for the kids, if all goes well, I hope to make them as part of their Christmas gifts.

I personally love the fall and winter.  All the holidays to come are my favorite–all the soups to be made, pumpkins to be carved, pumpkin pies to be made, Christmas tree to be decorated and of course, a time to reflect on the past season and plan for the next.  Things tend to slow down a bit during the colder months and we hope to take advantage of that and truly enjoy spending quality time as a whole family, doing crafts and playing games in front of a nice fire while sipping on hot chocolate.

Happy Fall Everyone! Thanks for reading!!  Visit us on our Facebook page!!