Saturday, September 24, 2011

Sweet and sour sorrel soup

7/22/11 • new bright fence
at the entrance to Nickelsville

Lynnda came on Thursday with her car full of firewood (her yard lost a tree recently) arranged around a big rain barrow and with big box of her homemade cookies on top of the pile, of course – she seem to be unable to leave the house without them (my husband thanks you, Lynnda, for the cookies you kindly appropriated to him, he is enjoying them as I am writing this).

We poured the content of two big pots (sweet and sour sorrel soup – recipe below) into a soup bucket and off to Nickelsville we went.  Lynnda had, but I did not visit the place since June - the new, bright colored fence greets visitors at the entrance: such a joyful accent!

9/22/11 • General view of Nickelsville from the entrance
9/22/11 • Inside the kitchen tent
Right now Nickelsville hosts about 120 residents, including 2 families with 8 or 9 children between them: we met very pretty Jackie, almost 2 year old, enjoying a quiet lunch with her mother…  At the height of summer Nickelsville had about 150+ people + numerous four-legged family members (lots of them still there).  Many new faces now, but we met some old friends, too: Tracy, Richard, T.J., Nate and Tim; there must be more, because as Richard walked us through the compound to show the new developments we heard greetings of recognition: the soup ladies are here… :)

9/22/11 • Container garden space

Richard may be leaving soon:  his family had a reunion in Seattle this summer and there was a talk that he may join them in Arkansas - he would live with his sister, while helping elder family members with tasks they no longer can do.

9/22/11 • Swing set for
the children of Nickelsville
So, what is new in Nickelsville? Several more structures went up, the container garden is growing healthily,  there are 2 resident-goats which are tasked with clearing the brush, a play-structure for children was assembled and there is a cat castle – a separate tent where kitties enjoy  each other’s company + cat-gym and toys.

I’m sure there is more that I didn’t catch –our visit too short, as usual, alas.

9/22/11 • Shelly petting resident goats

(Vegan – but you can ‘fix’ it by throwing chunks of chicken in the beginning).

The ‘essence’ of this soup, as Brian, a one-time resident of Nickelsville would put it, comes from combining the sweetness of sweet potatoes and caramelized onion with tartness of sorrel.

I cooked it in 2 large pots: the actual soup in one and the filler (to make the soup go further) in second.  You can either follow the actual soup and skip the filler, or add some (or all) of the ingredients from the filler part to your ‘actual’ soup pot, if you are cooking for 60+ people.

‘Actual’ sorrel soup:

1.  Combine in pot and cook till carrots are semi-soft (about 10 minutes):
- Caramelized onion (you know that one:  sautéed on low flame in scanty amount of olive oil, till it is very juicy and sweet, about 20 minutes – I actually do huge amounts in crock-pot ahead of time, and freeze it in containers for further use)
-  Chopped carrots
- (Optional:) any seasoning you have – mine: laurel leaves, chopped fresh rosemary leaves, lovage spring or 2)
- Water to cover the stuff in the pot; + add water later as you see it fit.

2.) Add chopped sweet potatoes and cook some more till carrots and yams are almost soft, but not mushy (about 10 minutes more)

4.) Add veggie cubes and chopped sorrel – the more sorrel you add the more  sour the soup will be (I harvested and chopped  a humongous bunch from 2 pots  - this stuff is easy to grow and seem eternal as it comes back in same pots for years now).  Cook for some 5 minutes (not long, you want the leaves in nice green color, not rotten green).

5.) Add chopped broccoli and turn the flame off (broccoli needs just the surrounding heat to steam itself up) and some canned butter beans (or other favorite beans you) for protein content.

6. Finish the soup  - all optional; my fixings here:  crushed garlic, olive oil (anything with fat will taste better) and chopped cilantro and parsley.  If the soup is not sour enough for you, add lemon juice, too.  Serve with good bread.

Soup filler (you can use any, all or none from this part of the recipe); mine was a combo of:
- Red lentils (cooked for some 20 minutes to thicken the soup)
- Broken spaghetti noodles  (5 more minutes)
- Chopped cabbage (+ 5 minutes)
- And more veg cubes.
9/22/11 • Kristin and Abbie.  Abbie is an cat from India, where Noreen rescued it and brought back to US last July.
9/22/11 • Tracy's cat:  Socks
9/22/11 • Lynnda and Richard look at the new structures;
the blue tarp/tent on the right is a house for the goats

P.S.  Sorry for possibly misspelled names in captions – will get it fixed when able.

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