My hands smell like onions. My fingernails are stained purple. The walls and cabinetry in the kitchen are festooned with colourful splatters and drips. The floor is sticky underfoot.
It must be harvest time.
The garden gushes vegetables in late summer, and the shorter days warn that it’s time to start preserving the bounty before it’s gone.
One of my favourite ways to save summer’s vegetables is in summer soup (which I’ve blogged about nearly every year since 2015). Because soup uses a bit of everything, there’s no need to have vast quantities of any one vegetable. And it doesn’t matter if, say, the sweet peppers bombed or there’s an overabundance of sweet corn. Soup accepts what you’ve got and returns lovely meals all packaged and ready to go on those winter evenings when you come home late from work. It is both forgiving and giving.
So it’s worth a long day in the kitchen to make and bottle (can) a big vat of the stuff.
And while you’re at it, it’s super easy to toss carrot peels, corn cobs, celery tops, and other ‘waste’ from soup making into a large pot to simmer for stock. Run the stock through the canner after the soup, and you’ve got delicious summer flavouring for winter risottos and stews.
So I may have spent fourteen hours in the kitchen on Saturday, but at the end of the day, I had fourteen quarts of soup and six quarts of stock (and another four quarts of pickled onions, because you know, if you’re going to spend all day in the kitchen, you may as well make the most of it.
In the coming weeks, I’ll bring in the pumpkins and potatoes, freeze sweet corn, and string hot peppers for drying. The kitchen will be messy, and I’ll have too much to get done.
But when it’s all over, I’ll be able to relax, at least for a while, until the winter crops need to be weeded …