In Native American reckoning, the months are categorized by the moon. This time of year, when provisions laid up for the long winter are low and the sap has not yet risen, nor have the tender shoots of early spring greens yet arrived, is called the Hunger Moon. Traditionally it was a time of leanness and lack, but nowadays I love the idea of a period of scarcity, the reprieve of our chronic over-indulgence in a material society. I love the idea of building great appreciation for the plenty that will come in late spring and summer. Coinciding with Lent, it offers the chance to begin a period of renewal, to clean out the old, to prepare for the newness of life to come.
This time of year I take up the Pantry Challenge- trying to use up what is left on the shelves (the most interesting concoctions bubble up in my kitchen!). It is a time for root vegetables, and this recipe, which I call Hunger Moon Soup, is suprisingly substantial and creamy considering it is nothing but veggies, water, and spices. It serves as a wonderful vegetable soup, or as a base for a tuscan style soup- add sliced sausge and kale- or a bean soup- add cannellini beans and kale or arugula, mmm! The celery it calls for tends to be something I need to buy at the store this time of year (although I have grand plans for a bumper harvest next year, that I can dehydrate and add to soups next winter), but is so worth it and is generally a staple in my kitchen anyways (I am lost without mirepoix!). It can also be made without the celery.
Hunger Moon Soup
Half a stick of organic butter (or for a dairy free version, 1/4 cup olive oil)
1 Tbsp. olive oil (omit if you used olive oil instead of butter above)
3 cups diced onions
2.5 cups diced celery (optional, but delicious!)
5 cups diced carrots
2 cloves of minced garlic
6 cups diced potatoes
12 cups filtered water
1 Tbsp. salt
1 Tbsp. honey
1 tsp each of dried marjoram, basil, and savory
pepper to taste
(optional) 1/4 cup chopped parsley for garnish
Heat the butter and oil in a large pot. Saute onions, celery, and carrots on medium low until soft and glistening. Add garlic and saute another minute.
Add potatoes, water, salt, honey, and spices. *Stir with great love, and bless the soup.
Bring to a boil. Cover, lower heat to a simmer, and cook until potatoes are tender (about 15-20 minutes). Using a slotted spoon, scoop out about 1/4 of the potatoes and set aside.
Using a handheld blender (or alternatively, waiting for soup to cool a little and using a regular blender), blend the soup until creamy and mostly smooth (I like it a little more chunky, a little less pureed, for a nice texture).
Return the cooked diced potatoes to the pot, and garnish with parsley if desired. So nice and creamy looking, isn’t it!
*Stirring while blessing has become an important part of my cooking. I think it makes a big difference. One day after my husband and I argued, I sat at the stove simmering (inwardly) along with a pot of stew I was preparing. I was stirring it furiously, angry thoughts cooking in my head. I sat down and had my stew and went to bed. My husband ate his bowlful and promptly got sick. He is convinced my angry stirring transferred negative energy into the pot, and after studying Dr. Emoto’s research on the memory of water, I daresay he may be correct. Since then, he has actually refused meals if he thought the cook was in an ill temper. Now I make it a regular practice to bless my soups and stews with careful, loving intentions as I stir!
This soup involves quite a bit of chopping, and I love to sing two of Mary Thienes-Schunemann’s songs from This Is The Way We Wash-A-Day. I will have to add it to our co-op offerings for next month, it’s such a great resource! Her song “Vegetable Soup” says..
Vegetable soup, vegetable soup, we need fresh veggies to make vegetable soup!
Hello Mrs. Celery, you have a big heart.
We’ll put you in first to give our soup a good start.
Oh vegetable soup, vegetable soup, we need fresh veggies to make vegetable soup!
(…Hello Mr. Carrot, you’re so big and round
We had to pull hard to get you out of the ground…
…Hello Mrs. Potatoe, we dig you we do
Then we have to wash all the dirt off of you…
…Hello Mr. Onion, we’ll hang you to dry
And when we cut you up you’ll make us cry!)
There are other vegetable verses, but I stick with the ones we are using in our soup. I highly recommend her book/cd set for this song and many others. My other favorite for chopping veggies is a traditional rhyme which she has set to music.
“Chop! Chop! Chippety chop! Cut off the bottom and cut off the top, What we have left we’ll put in the pot… chop, chop, chippety chop!”
In addition to singing with my little ones, I try to involve them in the preparation as much as possible. At the very least, my 4 year old and toddler chop and “cook” with playdough beside me. But there is usually something they can do to be more involved in the cooking, and for this recipe, they enjoy helping me sort the diced veggies and put them into different colored bowls. Then, they love to pour the contents into the pot at the correct time.
Even at the tender age of two, my daughter loves to “recycle”- we have a bowl just for compost scraps. This time of year, as it is getting close to the time when we can plant potatoes, I like to cut off and save any pieces with potatoe “eyes” (buds) and store them in a cool, dark place. Many of them will last to plant as seed potatoes and become new potatoe plants.
To compliment the soup, my husband loves this whole wheat beer bread recipe, and it is super quick to whip up a loaf and serve hot and buttered with the soup. It does have a bit of that bitter ale flavor, so it’s more of an adult recipe.
What’s cooking in your kitchen?
(Part of Natural Mothers Networks’ Seasonal Celebration Linky Party)