I’ve got soup on the brain. Our weather in south Louisiana is still warm and muggy, but the calendar just flipped to November, it’s getting darker earlier and there is a CRAZY amount of inspiring ingredients emerging from local farms and found in local grocery stores and at our Red Stick Farmers Market. This time of year yields incredible produce here in the Bayou State, and one of the easiest ways to enjoy it is in a yummy bowl of homemade soup. Here are five simple and delicious soup ideas that use regional raw materials.
1. Pasta e fagioli.
This thrifty Italian peasant soup is made with tiny pasta and red beans. Ponchatoula farmer Eric Morrow is selling fresh red beans right now that cook beautifully in soup, and local handmade pasta shop, D’Agostino’s, has this tiny birdseye pasta that works great. Here’s the recipe.
2. Corn and poblano pepper.
You can find fresh corn at the market from a couple of farmers as well as poblano peppers and big beefy tomatoes. Yes! Fresh corn and summer tomatoes in early November. Northern states are drooling. Make chicken stock from a market bird, and combine it with sautéed onions and celery, roasted corn, roasted poblanos, diced tomatoes and bits of cooked chicken. Top with crumbled chevre or ricotta salata (also available at the market) or cotijo cheese, chopped cilantro and a squirt of fresh lime.
3. Shrimp and corn.
Market vendor Lance Nacio of Anna Marie Seafood has preservative-free shrimp that are frozen on the spot right on his shrimp boat. Pick up fresh corn, tomatoes and local milk or cream to confect one of south Louisiana’s favorite soups.
4. Cream of shiitake mushroom.
Greenwell Springs Produce vendor David Spiess was back this past Thursday at the mid-week market on the grounds of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center with fresh shiitake mushrooms. Sauté them with onions and garlic, combine with beef stock and cream, and top with fresh scallions. Finish with a little Sherry.
5. Summer and winter squash soup.
This is what I love about mid-fall. Our mild climate allows for a final crop of summer produce at the same time that winter crops are also in play. Pick up butternut and other varieties of hard skin squash at the market, as well as yellow summer squash and zucchini. Bake and puree the winter squash and combine with chicken or vegetable stock, sauteed aromatic vegetables and curry powder as your base. Add lightly sautéed yellow squash and zucchini to the bowls as garnish, then top with fresh herbs, feta cheese or chopped scallions for color and textural variation. Here’s my recipe.