The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan is a book that changed my life. It opened my eyes to the utter insanity of our current commercial agricultural and food production industries and turned me into a confirmed locavore. There is a program run by NC State University asking people to pledge to spend 10% of their existing food budget on locally-produced food, which I participate in and encourage everyone to join (click here for more information on that). But personally, I try to spend a minimum of 50% of my food budget locally, at least from April - December when the Cary Downtown Farmers Market is open. Every Saturday morning, my neighbors and I walk down to the market with a collection of our children, and fill up our strollers with the bounty of our local farmers' hard work.
To encourage others to join us in shopping at the farmers markets instead of traditional grocery stores, I thought I would share some recipes that I've prepared using ingredients from CDFM. I hope they inspire you to check out your local farmers market and try them out!
This time of year, of course, there is a lot of squash available. This recipe uses a special item from CDFM to make a squash dish that is a little different.
FARMERS MARKET SUMMER SQUASH SOUP
1 tablespoon organic extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4-6 medium summer squash, diced
4 teaspoons chopped fresh herbs, whatever is your favorite(s) (I had basil, so I used that)
1 32-ounce carton of organic vegetable broth (it's probably better if you make your own, but I don't)
1 teaspoon salt
kernels sliced from 2-3 large ears of corn (non-GMO, of course)
1 4 oz container of Paradox Farm's Cheese Louise! fresh goat cheese with jalapeño
Heat the oil in your soup pot and cook the onion until it is soft and translucent. Then add the squash and half of the herbs and cook until the squash starts to soften (5-10 minutes). Add the broth and salt and bring the liquid to boil. Turn it down to simmer and cook the squash until it is soft and translucent (another 5-10 minutes). I hope you have an immersion blender because they are WONDERFUL for making soup; if so, stick it in the pot and blend it until it is smooth. If you don't have an immersion blender, then puree it in your regular blender (which is a pain, because you have to transfer hot liquids back and forth without burning yourself).
Once the soup is smooth, remove the immersion blender or return the soup from the regular blender to the soup pot over medium heat. Now add the corn kernels. You can also scrape the corn cobs and add any additional corn "milk" you get into the soup. Simmer it until the corn kernels get cooked and tender (another 5 minutes or so).
Pour the soup into bowls. Add about 1/2 - 1 tablespoon of the goat cheese with jalapeño to the bowl and swirl gently. Garnish the soup with the remaining herbs and serve immediately!
So what you get with this recipe is a lovely, velvety-smooth soup with a subtle taste and little chewy morsels of sweet corn, which are a nice contrast. The little bit of cheese melts into the soup and gives it the mouthfeel of a much-more-caloric cream soup, and the jalapeño gives it just a little bit of a kick. But if your family doesn't like any heat at all, Paradox Farm also sells a delicious goat cheese with pepper, which would give it a bit of a peppery taste, or an herb and garlic variety that would probably also be a great addition to the soup.
My menfolk liked it so much that everyone went back for seconds, which meant, alas, I didn't have any leftovers. But it is quick and easy enough that I can make it again. And I still have about half of the goat cheese left, so I think one 4oz container can probably stretch to two batches of the soup. We got 6 good-sized servings from this recipe.
And I got everything I needed for the recipe, except for the olive oil, vegetable broth, and the salt, at CDFM. Of course, with a pretty plain recipe like this, the quality of the squash is really important. So thanks to my local farmers and cheese producers for helping me to make such a healthy and delicious dish for my family.