It’s the New Year and I’m brimming with resolutions. It might be that I spent my new year’s week with all the things that make me most happy—my family, fresh writing projects, and a new novel by Haruki Murakami—but 2012 feels full of promise, and resolution #1 is to sustain that feeling of buoyancy for as long as possible. Resolution #2 (which handily edged out #3: honoring my parents’ orthodontic investment and finding the will to wear my old retainers) is to spend more time with Girl Farm Kitchen, and on that note I have a special introduction to make.
Shepherd Farms is my family’s “home farm”—we live on Shepard Mesa, and the travel time from door to door clocks in at four minutes. We’ve been members since they started their CSA program several years ago, and when I’m home I’m the designated produce shopper, stopping by the farm cart on weekday afternoons to chat with Kjessie and select jewel-toned cabbages and crisp, sweet gnarled carrots.
The welcome is always warm: in the summer two Polish chicks gamboled in a play-pen by the farm cart, and last week they came leaping comically over the nearby rows of rosemary to greet me when I arrived. The farm’s characters don’t end there—regulars are well-acquainted with “Stan” the turkey, who makes soft warbling noises in her throat when you get too close to her chicken friends, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who feeds my strawberry tops to the three woolly goats as I leave (lucky for them I’ve usually eaten half the punnet by the time I get to the car). Driving by it’s not unusual to see Tom Shepherd out on his tractor, wide-brimmed hat on head and wandering chickens in tow.
Living in California (especially under the sway of winter heat spells) we’re fortunate to get ripe strawberries and tender lettuce greens year-round, but having planted and tended brassicas at Love Apple I have a sweet spot for broccoli and cauliflower as the traditional winter crops. This soup was a play on the many broccoli and cheese numbers I’ve tasted over the years, and as a lover of feta—especially tangy, moist feta—I thought I’d give that a try. Resolution #4? Celebrate winter veggies, the farms that grow them, and the tables they end up on.
Broccoli Soup with White Pepper and Feta
3 medium heads of broccoli
2 onions, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 good sized potato
5 cups chicken (or vegetable) broth
1/2 cup crumbled feta
1 tsp white pepper
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 cup yogurt
fresh coriander (cilantro) for garnish
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut broccoli into small florets and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, then arrange on a baking sheet and roast for 10-15 minutes, or until florets are nicely browned on the edges. Set aside to cool.
In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat and saute onions and garlic. Cube potato and add in with the broth, then simmer until potato pieces are cooked through, adding broccoli towards the end. Let soup base cool a bit before stirring in feta, and season with white pepper, ground coriander, and salt to taste.
Puree warm soup in a blender in two batches, then return to pot and whisk in yogurt. Reheat if necessary and serve warm, garnished with fresh coriander and crumbled feta.