A few weeks into summer, all the work we put into our vegetable gardens begins to pay off. Now that I have found an effective deterrent for the hungry groundhog, everything is beginning to mature according to schedule. Practically every evening fresh green onions or shallots go into the dinner pot. Basil has satisfied our craving for fresh pesto. We have as much sage, thyme, tarragon and lemon verbena as we need. Last weekend I harvested the Norland potatoes but their productivity was underwhelming so I decided to leave Warba and Bintje in the ground to set more tubers. Yesterday I harvested the first two tender zucchini, so bring on the glut! Little tomatoes are beginning to swell on the vines, but maturity is still some time away.
All this produce calls for summer soups. So I pulled out my recipe file for a three-part weekend series. The first two are all-time favourites I have made year after year. The third was a new experiment to address my garden’s peculiar abundance.
While advocating local food whenever possible, I make exceptions for a few favourites. This soup is one of mine, so canned clams occasionally make the cut. A little luxury is fair considering all the produce is homegrown.
- 4 slices bacon, chopped
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 4 medium Norland or other red potatoes, chopped
- 1 heaping tablespoon potato starch (or 2 tablespoons amaranth flour)
- 2 cups milk
- ¾ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon white pepper
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 2 142-g/5-oz cans baby clams with liquid
- 1 small handful fresh basil, chopped
- Place a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Sauté bacon until crisp.
- Add green onions and potatoes. Sauté for a few minutes, using moisture from the vegetables to scrape the bottom of the pan.
- Sprinkle with potato starch or amaranth flour and stir briefly to blend.
- Add milk and stir to blend.
- Simmer, stirring frequently, for about 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Add clams with their liquid, and whipping cream.
- Heat and stir just until simmering. Do not boil or the clams will toughen.
- Sprinkle with fresh, chopped basil and serve immediately.
Traditionally the method calls for the potatoes to be peeled, but potatoes are much more nutritious with the skins included. Red potatoes seem to get some of their colour back when included in this recipe, which adds nice visual appeal with bits of bacon, onion and basil.
Using potato starch as a thickener is a simple way to make this traditional soup gluten-free. Alternatively, try 2 tablespoons of amaranth flour, which has an earthy flavour suitable for this soup. Don't want to experiement and don't care about gluten? Simply substitute 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour.
Check here next Saturday for the second in this series of summer soups. Do you have a favourite recipe that takes advantage of the season’s bounty?