Farmer’s Market Minestrone
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I suppose Farmer’s Markets are fun because they remind us of our agricultural roots
and the old-world way of haggling for food, in full view, in an open market. Maybe
we like them because we’re just plain tired of having our food irradiated,
shrunk-wrapped and displayed under fashion lighting like jewelry or a new car.
Nah! That’s not why we like Farmer’s Markets. We like Farmers Markets because the
produce is grown in fresh air, in good soil, with fresh rainwater, picked last night
and tastes better than anything ever has or ever will.
You get up early, get some coffee and walk around looking at the food, deciding what
looks the best. You talk to the person who grew it and picked it, or at least drove
the truck that got it there. You pick it up, look at the bottom, heft it, squeeze
it, and smell it. It might even have dirt on it. Or dew from last night.
You wanna know if the corn is any good? Well, peel back the leaves, separate the
silk and look at it. How about them beans? Go ahead, break one in half and eat it.
Ask where the tomatoes are from and the answer is a county, not a country!
Wait! What am I going to do with all this food? Sure, I can boil, but I can’t
cook. Well, try this:
1 or 2 of everything at the Farmer’s Market (red tomato, orange tomato, yellow zucchini, green zucchini, banana pepper, bell pepper, corn, eggplant, summer squash, onion, garlic, green beans)
½ cup good olive oil
Juice from half a lemon—helps the vegetables keep their great color
Enough water to cover all the chopped vegetables
Salt, pepper and paprika to taste
Wash the vegetables, remove stems and inedible parts. Escort any bugs or worms
Husk the corn, remove the silk and snap off the stem. Hold the ear standing on
end and slice off the rows of corn kernels with a sharp knife.
Chop the vegetables into bite-size pieces. Put the wet pieces in a bowl,
sprinkle with salt (to taste) and olive oil and squeeze in the lemon. Mix
together with your hands to blend in the salt and set aside for half an hour.
The salt and oil will pull water from the vegetables and create a broth. This is
actually an ancient Roman method for making salad dressing and, in fact, our word
“salad” is from the Latin word for salt, “sal”.
While the vegetables are “sal-ing” in the bowl, put some olive oil in a large
soup pot over heat and sauté some onion and garlic until they just begin to
brown. Add enough water that will cover the vegetables when they’re added later.
Then add enough paprika to pinken the water and throw in the corncobs. Salt and
pepper to taste, bring to a boil and then simmer-down for twenty minutes.
Add the vegetables, and all the juice that has come out, to the pot and return to
a boil. Cook the soup until the vegetables are the “doneness” that you like. It
won’t take very long, maybe 20 minutes to a half hour for vegetables that are
still slightly crisp, because the Roman salting technique has already partially
“cooked” the vegetables.
Serve with crusty Italian bread.
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