The march is on ... this morning we woke to a thrum of katydids and cooler, dry air. The heatwave that has been crushing the Eastern seaboard seems to be passing and a change is in the air. Autumn ... yup, that's Autumn rattling the bugs and bringing on a cool morning breeze. The sky is changing from that deep summertime azure to a more washed out blue. The roadsides are lined with feathery chicory blossoms and the fields beyond are beginning to turn bright yellow with late summer's goldenrod. I can practically hear the school kids groaning about summer's demise and the onset of another year of classes, but the boys up the street are racing up and down our dirt road on their bikes, screaming and whistling at each other and making our Corgis howl and hoot. Timmy and Christopher clatter their bikes back and forth out front of the house, defiantly in denial of summertime's end. It's a joy to hear. Their rambunctiousness is a perfect counterpoint to the almost hypnotic background sound of the crickets and katydids.
Sitting on the back porch, I'm content to spread newspaper on the big table in front of me, plop a bowl in my lap, tip mounds of wild blueberries onto the paper and roll them into the bowl, brushing aside the stems and leaves and picking out the occasional berry caterpillar. A few minutes of culling and there are enough blueberries for a batch of jam and one more blueberry pie. SB says the picking on Gap Mountain is just about past for the year. Next week, it will be time to pick peaches and think about making chutney and peach jam, but first, the blueberries.
While I sit contentedly picking over berries, I hear the terrace slider slamming shut. SB struggles with the garden clippers and a basket loaded down with vegetables from the backyard plot. The green beans are coming fast and furious and the tomatoes are beginning to pile up in the kitchen. There are cucumbers, the first of the zucchini, incredibly beautiful Swiss chard, the ever-present kale, and the first digging of yellow potatoes. The garden is groaning with produce and that means that I am trying to stay ahead of the harvest.
Which brings me to this soup/stew ... and lunch ... a three bean fagioli ... a mess of vegetables topped with plenty of coarsely shredded Parmesan and served with buttermilk biscuits that have been jazzed up with chives and smoked Gouda. Today's take of zucchini and part of the take of green beans, tomatoes,and kale make their way into this pot of soup ... the rest are ... oh boy, what AM I going to do with the rest of those tomatoes?
Rachael Ray’s Three Bean Fagioli
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium sized onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 medium sized tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1- 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1-15 oz. can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp. tomato paste
3 c. strong veggie or chicken broth
1 c. ditalini pasta or another variety of mini pasta
3 c. water
2 c. fresh green beans, tipped and cut into 1½ inch lengths
2 c. kale, sliced into thin ribbons
A handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
Zest and juice of half a lemon
Making the Soup:
- Place the olive oil, onion, celery, carrot, garlic, bay leaf, and rosemary in a big soup pot and sauté until the veggies begin to soften – about five minutes.
- Add the peppercorns, beans, and tomatoes and cook for another few minutes.
- Mix the tomato paste with the broth in a measuring cup and add it to the veggies and beans, stirring to combine everything. Add the water measure and let this mixture come to a boil.
- Add the pasta, green beans, and kale. Lower the heat and let the soup simmer until the pasta and beans are cooked.
- Just before serving, add the parsley, lemon zest and juice, and correct the salt and pepper flavours.
- Serve hot with a handful of shredded Parmesan cheese atop the soup and some sort of bread for sopping up all the goodness.