Happy Solstice! + RECIPE: Cabbage Patch Soup

I’m glad the weather has decided to turn itself around and get back to spring normal because after those teasing days of 50-degree weather and pure sunshine in early March, the blizzard two Mondays back (and subsequent cold spell) was totally unappreciated. Thank heavens I had a flight out to sunny New Orleans the next day.

Since I’ve returned home nearly all that surprise snow has melted and I can feel the spring in the air. The grass is getting the most subtle shade of green beneath its layers of brown. Tulips are going to start popping any day now and the birds are singing so loudly they actually wake me up in the morning.

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Yes, it feels just like it should on this spring solstice meets St. Patrick’s Day weekend. I’m fairly certain I’m going to attempt a bike ride to the farm tomorrow in the forecasted 55-degree sunshine and I don’t even care that those huge hills are going to be a serious struggle like they are every March because the start of cycling season means we’re getting rapidly closer to the days when I’ll be biking to fields full of produce and color and beauty.

And I’m definitely going to ignore the fact that the 10-day forecast has any snowflakes in it because even if that happens I can just go step inside my greenhouse of new life whenever I want and it’s a balmy tropical paradise. In fact, the germination chamber my Carrot whipped up a couple weekends back is a consistent 80-degrees with high humidity and there happens to be just barely enough room at the bottom for one full-grown human. If it really does snow next week, I’ll absolutely be attempting to climb inside this makeshift sauna.

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So that about sums up my life at the moment: watching the weather forecast constantly, talking about it obsessively, dreaming of warm spaces where I can curl up in my greenhouse, and trying to get enough exercise back into my life that the start of fieldwork in a few weeks doesn’t totally kick my ass.

Well those things, and eating everything I can from the freezer and basement. With warmer weather and local food on the horizon (the maple syrup season has just begun which means asparagus, morels and ramps aren’t that far off!), I’m working through all the produce we took so much energy and forethought to store last fall. We have finished the four tomato pies I froze (which was the happiest of all experiments). We’re close to done with the frozen strawberries. There are only a few bags of butternut squash and caramelized shallot biscuits left.

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But we’re still overloaded with mountains of potatoes, crate after crate of gently sprouting onions, bags of frozen peppers, jars of (amazing) tomato sauce and (slightly strange) sweet corn stock (I mean seriously, why?), and two whole produce drawers filled with carrots and beets. We’ve got dilly beans in the pantry and three dozen jars of charred chunky salsa alongside them plus thirty (yes thirty) pounds of frozen blueberries to work through. It’s sounding to me like a lot of hash browns and blueberry smoothies for breakfast and nothing but Mexican food for dinner. We’ve got our work cut out for us before we really deserve those first fresh spears of asparagus, but I’m 100% up to the challenge.

To get through some of the tomato sauce, frozen peppers and storage cabbage we were gifted from Tipi Produce, I’ve been making this family favorite recipe for Cabbage Patch Soup on repeat at least a couple times per month all winter-long. And I never tire of it. That’s the magic of cabbage, tomato, ground meat and a little sugar.

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It seemed fitting to share this favorite recipe on a day that (in my humble opinion) should really be more about eating cabbage and less about green beer. Yup, nine months later and the cabbage obsession has not diminished even one bit.

I hope you enjoy a meal that I think is just as perfect in November as it is in the springtime. And I hope you have a lovely St. Patty’s Day.

From my pleasantly sunny living room floor,
Your Leek

P.S. I am so honored to have been featured in two publications since we last spoke. Check out the latest issues of Modern Farmer and Living The Country Life Magazines to see some familiar faces and see all the fun we’ve got planned for early August!

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CABBAGE PATCH SOUP
Adapted from Taste of Home

Serves 8-10
Takes 50 minutes

1 pound ground beef (or venison)
2 teaspoons Kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
2 poblanos, seeded and diced (about 1 cup)
1 colored pepper, seeded and diced (about 1 cup)
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
1/2 large head cabbage (red or green or a mixture of both), chopped (about 6 cups)
32 ounces canned or boxed tomato soup (I love Pacific Organic Creamy Tomato Soup)
28 ounces canned diced tomatoes (or 4 cups diced fresh tomatoes)
4 cups water
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons chili powder

  1. In a stock pot, combine ground meat with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook ground meat over medium heat until well browned. Add peppers and onion to the pot and cook until gently softened, about 5 minutes. Somethings might stick or brown a little. Don’t worry about that one bit.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients to the pot and stir to combine. Bring a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered for about 25 minutes over medium low heat until cabbage is well softened.
  3. Taste and adjust flavors to your liking.

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