Monday, January 03, 2011

Behold the Winter CSA and a Fiesta Soup

The parties are over, it’s back to work, and things might be looking a tad blue.

My case of blues results in part from the fact that my community farm is slumbering, and fresh, local, revitalizing greens are a long way off. By my calculation it is approximately a full five months, or 22 weeks, or 154 days until the 2011 season begins again at Restoration Farm. Sobering, to say the least. Granted, the basement chest freezer is filled with soups, stews and breads that were the result of last year’s harvest, but over time I’ve learned that it wasn’t just the food, but the sun, the soil and the community that mattered as well.

I’m not sure anything can quite fill the void in my kitchen or my psyche, but when I learned of the existence of Winter Sun Farms – a novel CSA model that runs from December through April – I decided to give it a try.

Winter Sun Farms is the brainchild of Jim Hyland of New Paltz, New York who I profiled last autumn for Edible Hudson Valley. Jim purchases surplus produce from Hudson Valley farmers, freezes it, and distributes it monthly to CSA members throughout the Hudson Valley, metro New York and Long Island region. The first distribution for Long Island, which occurs in Rockville Centre, offered a bright selection of colors to chase away the winter blues:

The produce included Sweet Corn from Migliorelli Farm, Blueberries from Greig Farm, Butternut Squash Puree from the Poughkeepsie Farm Project, Green Beans from Markristo Farm and Stick & Stone Farm, Dice Mixed Peppers from Hepworth Farms, Phillies Bridge Farm and I & Me Farm and Plum Tomatoes from Hepworth Farms and Millers Crossing Farm. The membership supports sustainable agriculture and helps these Hudson Valley Farms and many others continue to thrive and develop new markets for their produce.
An influx of local food in the dark of winter is reason to celebrate, so I’ve whipped up a “Winter Fiesta Soup,” thick with sweet corn, black beans, colorful peppers and plum tomatoes. Inspired by the recipes for Penny’s Winter Sun Farms Veggie Soup, and Corn Chowder found on the Winter Sun Farms website, the soup is more than enough to fill the belly and warm the soul as I await the spring thaw on Long Island. And, local farm families throughout New York State benefit, too.

Winter Fiesta Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion chopped
1 medium carrot diced
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 bay leaves
4 to 6 cups vegetable stock
24 ounces frozen diced plum tomatoes
12 ounces frozen diced mixed peppers
16 ounces frozen sweet corn
2 cups cooked black beans
Salt and fresh ground pepper
In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium heat. Sautee onions and carrots until tender. Add garlic and continue to sautee until golden. Add the vegetable stock and spices and bring to a boil. Add the frozen tomatoes and frozen peppers and sweet corn. Simmer until the vegetables have defrosted. Add the beans and simmer another ten minutes. Remove the bay leaf before serving. Season to taste.

©2011 T.W. Barritt all Rights Reserved


tasteofbeirut said...

That soup, its color, was warming me up already! I am now curious to see what you are going to do with that squash purée you got!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I love the idea of the winter CSA. Such a boon to the farmers to have value added for their work.

Julia said...

This a brilliant idea! I'm sure many locavores have grand intentions of squirreling away food for winter, but never quite get there.

Here in Boston, there are still a few farmers markets selling local, winter veggies (mostly hoop-houses, I'm sure). I wonder if you can also get fresh local veggies in NY?

Deana Sidney said...

What a short memory I have. I meant to make a note of this when you wrote of it earlier. I think it's simply marvelous to give farmers a little extra income during the winter and get rid of food that might have just spoiled. I will look into them...Union Square is into its winter mode with only 25% of the farmers there and mostly meat and cheese. This is a great local option and the profits don't go to mega-corps!

Mary Bergfeld said...

How lovely to be able to make this from local produce in the dead of winter. It looks wonderful and is perfect to ward off winter's chill. I hope the new year brings you continued health and happiness. I hope the new year brings us more posts such as this one. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

Jim Hyland said...

Wow...great looking soup!
Do you mind if I send it out to all my Winter Sun Farm members and post it on my website?

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Hi Jim - Happy New Year! Absolutely, feel free to share the recipe. Looking forward to the next distribution!

Kathy said...

I remember you writing about Jim Hyland before. I, too, think the winter CSA is a great idea--it benefits both the farmers and the CSA members. I haven't heard anything about something like that down here. Love the look of those packages and your soup.

Barbara said...

A super idea and I'm so glad you are taking advantage of it and passing the results along to us!
Living in Florida, we are fortunate to have access to just about anything year round (and have to pay through the nose for it) but I sure am excited to learn about the winter CSA for you northeners. Supporting local farmers is so important.
Your soup looks warming, delicious and full of flavor!

Happy New Year T.W.!

Sophie Sportende Foodie said...

What an amazing, tasty & appetizing good for you soup.

I am going to make this tasty soup tomorrow because it is very cold over here & I need some tasty soup!!

I wish you & Happy & fun 2011 filled with joy & good food!

veron said...

wow, that's some hearty soup! one for these cold winter nights.

Velva said...

Your post always gently reminds me of the great farms in NY.
Your Winter CSA was very clever in showcasing the extra bounty of the season, and the farms that produced the fruits and vegetables.

Your soup without a doubt looks hearty and warm.


~~louise~~ said...

Your lovely soup brings a whole new meaning to National Soup Month, T.W.

What a GREAT idea to freeze summer's bounty and offer it up CSA style. Thank you so much for sharing...

Lisa Daria said...

Okay, I'm going to try a recipe from March 15 (2008) - er, um, I'm a latecomer to your blog - but I've got all these left over things from the holidays, like. . . butter, ricotta cheese, flour. . . eggs.

wish me luck.

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

Jim's idea of purchasing surplus local food is the coolest idea anyone's come up with in a very long time. Great bowl of soup T.W.

With the cold weather this winter has brought, I could eat soup every day.

Diana's Cocina said...

This has everything I look for in a soup. So rich and hearty, but most of all delicious!