Spring Inspires a Stew | Civil Eats

Spring Inspires a Stew


I’m a huge fan of soup and stew. In fact, I make one every weekend with my pickings from San Francisco’s Alemany Farmers Market. A weekly soup is the perfect healthy option for a busy single gal about town like me. I want to eat at home, cheaply, wholesome food, every day. But, of course, I’m running around – there are meetings to attend and friends to see, yoga classes, sunsets. So, I rely on my soup to get me through. Refrigerate a little, freeze the rest. Eat it when I need the nourishment.

Well, my routine changed a bit this week because of two events: the arrival of Spring and my first CSA box from Two Small Farms. I’m sharing the CSA bounty with my neighbor and friend Mike. He ordered it by himself last year and found he couldn’t use all the produce in one week, but liked the weekly fresh veg. This time around we split the goods. Last week he got to pick first (he took the beets) and this coming week I get to first dibs (let’s hope for more beets!).

Back to the soup. I picked the fat parsnips precisely because they are a wonderful addition to any soup – they have a sweet flavor and earthy texture that I just love. And, they became my inspiration. To celebrate the first of Spring I tried to create a light and fresh stew balanced with hardy ingredients like barley and pork (sustainably raised of course).

The following recipe makes about 12 cups of soup. I froze 6 cups. I’m also trying to acknowledge the origin all of my ingredients. But, since I didn’t know I’d be writing about this soup at the time I gathered them, I didn’t record all the individual farmers, but I did note the market. Next time, I promise to remember the farmer. See, I’m learning!

The Ingredients

2 large parsnips, chopped in smallish pieces (Two Small Farms)
Extra-virgin olive oil (Italian, of course)
1 onion, diced (Alemany Farmer’s market)
3 garlic cloves, diced (roomies bought)
2 carrots, diced (Ferry Plaza farmers market)
1 lb pork stew meat (Avedano’s Holly Park Market, from Golden Gate Meat Company)
8 cups water (SF’s finest tap)
1 cup barley (packaged)
2 fresh rosemary sprigs, whole (from Sean and Rachel’s yard)
Fresh parsley torn by hand, (Two Small Farms)
Grey salt, to taste (Sel Marin, naturally harvested unprocessed from Brittany, France)
Freshly ground pepper, to taste (White peppercorns from Ho Chi Min City/Saigon Spice Market– I brought them back to the states myself)

The Preparation

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Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the parsnips in an oven safe roasting pan (or on a baking sheet), sprinkle liberally with olive oil. Roast for 30-40 minutes or until tender and slightly browned.

In a soup pot, over medium heat, warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sauté garlic and onion until the onions are translucent. Add the carrots and sauté for a few more minutes, five tops. Add the pork and cook for about 5 minutes more or until browned. Add water. Bring temperature to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for as long as possible. Brings out all the fat in the pork. Once the parsnips are ready, add those and continue to simmer. I simmered my soup for about three hours.

Meanwhile, cook the barley (according to directions) separately. Set aside.

Add the whole rosemary about a half hour before serving to infuse the broth with the scent. Add salt and pepper to taste. Then, about ten minutes before serving, add the fresh parsley. Garnish with additional parsley if desired.

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Jen Dalton is the editor of the Local Eats series, which features how cities all over the United States are rebuilding local food systems from the ground up and conducts interviews for our Faces & Visions of the Food Movement series.  Jen co-produces Kitchen Table Talks, a local food forum in San Francisco and heads up Kitchen Table Consulting which provides strategy and communications services to promote and support sustainable businesses, local economies and good food. Jen is also serves as the Cheese Chair of the Good Food Awards and was the Programs Director for Slow Food Nation '08. Read more >

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