Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Vegetable Soup Rich People Make When They Own A Country House

This scrumptious vegetable soup was one of our first lovely Autumn meals in our new...wait for it...country house. Hooot!

David hates it when I tell people we have a "country house". Right now, he's freaked out and his skin is crawling, but he doesn't know why.

When he hears me talk about our new "country house", he actually cringes and jumps in and explains to people that the house is a fixer upper, a run-down, unloved, ugly thing that needs our undivided attention to reach it's full potential, an investment, something that will eat up copious amounts of our free time. We closed on Monday and he already refers to it as our little "Money Pit".

A few weeks ago, I made the mistake of twittering about "our country house". I was trying to get into the spirit of the country. I have to get into the spirit of the country because, well, I'm from the country and did everything I could to get out of the country, only to marry someone I thought would never leave the city and have him convince me we should be buy a house surrounded by carpenter bees nesting in our siding, an exploding deer population that eat every plant in their wake, nights that are pitch black and have strange eerie scratching sounds coming out of the backyard and no concierge.

That's right. Not one single person down stairs to pick up my packages or keep robbers and murderers from breaking into our apartment.

But I was trying to get into the spirit...

So, I was fantasizing about the gorgeous farm stands loaded with local produce and wine country in New Paltz, where the house is, and The Culinary Institute of America right down the road, the actual green house in my house where I can have a garden year round and grow lemon trees - Can you believe it? Lemon trees - and the amazing light from the cathedral ceilings and the space, the space, the space and the good restaurants and rockin' chefs, and the idea that we might have a yard full of egg-laying chickens next Spring, the scads of grass-fed beef that you can find everywhere and my happy rock climbing husband who is excited about having a house nestled in the Shawanagunks, the best climbing in the Northeast.

And weirdly, we have more sex in the country. Must be the air. But the best thing - no more camping in a tent, so we can be near the nature. Thank you, Jesus.

I was getting excited. So, I twittered about it. The spirit moved me, so kill me.

This prompted a call from David. He actually stopped working to call me from the office and tell me to stop calling it "the country house", lest people mistakenly think we are rich.

So, we've been working on names for the house ever since. How to describe our little "homestead", "shack", "hut", "Camp Foster" without making it sound like we own the Kennedy Compound. We are in New York after all and "country house" is synonymous for weekending in the Hamptons.

But I do this exercise for David. Frankly, I like having a "country house." I look forward to a parade of ants trooping through my kitchen and flying bugs the size of grapes getting tangled in my hair. I look forward to the really gross bathrooms that cry out for renovation and the kitchen tile that is beyond repair. I look forward to the kids having a city life and a country life. City friends and country friends. I look forward to long Sunday Suppers with a full clamoring table in a proper dining room. I dream about designing a gourmet kitchen. I look forward to losing myself in a garden and cussing at the woodchucks.

I just look forward. And despite what our bank accounts look like, we are rich.

I will take pictures at "the Casa" or whatever we are calling the house next weekend and give you a tour. Until then, try this soup, as you say "Good bye" to our lovely Autumn.

xo YM


There are just enough lovely fall vegetables still hanging around the farmers market now to make this divine soup. There was a similar recipe in Gourmet a month or two but it was for a "stew". I can tell you that we don't eat stew here, the kids will turn up their noses at stew, but they will devour soup. So, I keep my broth soup like, but feel free to chunk it up with tomatoes, if you prefer a stew.

So, this soup is lovely, completely vegan, and deliciously simple. I gave you some ideas about vegetable quantities and such but really just go nuts at the farmers market and pick veg that looks good and that you like. Then, eyeball the quantities. Like zucchini? Add more. Despise eggplant? Leave it out.

Just enjoy this last taste of Fall.

The Vegetable Soup Rich People Make When They Own a Country House

* 1/3 cup olive oil
* 2 onions, chopped
* 2 celery ribs, cut into slices
* 3 carrots, cut into slices
* 4 garlic cloves, chopped
* 1/2 cup water or chicken broth
* 4 fresh tomatoes, chopped
* 3 handfuls of green beans, trimmed and cut pieces
* 2 red bell peppers, cut into chunks
* 2 small zucchini, cut into slices
* 1 smallish eggplant, cut into chunks
* 3 medium boiling potatoes, peeled or un-peeled, and cut into 1-inch pieces

Heat oil in a pot over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add onions, celery, carrots, and garlic and cook until pale golden, about 10 minutes. Add eggplant and water and cook, until eggplant is slightly softened, about 10 minutes.

Stir in tomatoes and bell peppers, then reduce heat to low and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, blanch green beans in a saucepan (about 3 minutes). Remove with a slotted spoon. Bring water up to a boil. Do the same with the zucchini and remove. Bring water to a boil. Add potatoes and do the same. Drain and remove.

Add all the blanched vegetables to stew and simmer, stirring, until all vegetables are very soft, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.



blissmamaof3 said...

This sounds fantastic, thank for the recipe. I've been looking for something like this.

AmyClaireP said...

Kim, if the name of the house is up for a vote, I'm supporting "Camp Foster."

The Mulligan Family said...

Oh, I totally think you should refer to it as "The Compound". Keep people guessing! ;-)

ntsc said...

Now you have a place to hang sausage and your own proscuitto.

Looking forward to the tour.

The Yummy Mummy said...

David likes "Camp Foster" too. I like the compound, but then it makes me think of Waco. Remember that compound?

And yes, NTSC, there will be plenty of curing meats and making charcuterie. And you will be my coach and mentor. The job pays nothing but the booze is free.

Shannon said...

Aww, I used to live in nearby Newburgh. I miss that area.

Good luck with your country manor! LOL.

ntsc said...

I drink bourbon.


should be near you.

auntjone said...

How about the 'weekend home'? Or is that equally snobbish?

ntsc said...

And I just had Michael Ruhlman ask me to do him a favor in regard to Cured Sausage (and not to stop trying to make it).

Talk about make your day.

Anne Stesney said...

I don't think you're rich because you have a country house. I think you're rich because you use solid gold toothpicks.

Can't wait to see the pictures and hear about the adventures because oh, there will be adventures.

Kristen In London said...

Someday you must listen to the David Sedaris bit about "my home... well, ONE of my homes..." Conveys just the right combination of pride, embarrassment, you name it. We named ours Red Gate Farm after the Nancy Drew book, and then... had to paint the Gate Red.

p.s. Our London home is overrun with ladybugs as well, only they're called "ladybirds" here. Go figure.

Anonymous said...

It's soup season - definitely going to try that recipe.

Regarding the name - how about "Camp David 2"? Not very original, but sounds Presidential.

I'm coming to the City this Sunday again. Hilary is running in the marathon, that is, if I can drag myself out of bed and be on the road by 5:30 AM.

Good luck with your new home.


mama said...

We have 3 names for our 2nd house. For those who are climbers, it's the "Gunks house". For us, we call it the "FAR house", because it's far away from the other house in NJ, and it's on Floyd Ackert Road (acronym). For everyone else who has no idea where the Gunks are, we call it the vacation home.
But whatever you call it, we love being up there, and would gladly move from NJ if it wasn't for work.