As gardening time is slowing down, and the nights are getting a little cooler, it is a great time to begin making delicious soups. Soups are one of my favorite parts about fall. Even though I am devastated to see summer come and go, there are a few things that make fall a great time of year: sweaters and hoodies (they are great at hiding those 10 lbs. I meant to lose this summer), delicious soups, cinnamon rolls, baking in the kitchen, holidays, family gatherings, traditions, football season, kids in school, caramel apples, and many more! Here is a healthy and easy garden stew that will get you excited for the holiday season as well as use up those last few items in your garden.
- 3 russet potatoes or 5 red potatoes, washed and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1 1/2 c. diced carrots
- 1 or 2 green peppers, cored and diced
- 2 medium zucchinis, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 c. fresh green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces (can also use frozen or canned)
- 1 c. frozen or fresh peas
- 4 stalks celery, diced
- 1 large onion, diced
- 7 tomatoes, cored and diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 c. leftover shredded or cubed beef roast
- 6-7 c. water
- 3 T. beef bouillon (I use the Augason Farms Powdered Beef Bouillon)
- 2 t. thyme
- 2 t. black pepper
- Salt to taste
- Cayenne pepper to taste
- 1/2-1 c. evaporated or whole milk (optional...add this if you like your stew a little more creamy)
- 2 T. cornstarch mixed with 1/4 c. water and then added to soup for thickening if needed
- Add the water and beef bouillon to a large soup pot. Cut up all of the vegetables. Add the potatoes, onions, carrots and celery to the pot. Let these vegetables boil until they are beginning to be tender. Add the cut up tomatoes, garlic, peppers, zucchini and green beans. Continue to simmer on medium heat for 3-5 minutes or until the beans begin to soften. Add the frozen or fresh peas and the rest of the seasonings and shredded beef. Continue to simmer until the peas are soft but the vegetables do not become mushy. You want to stop cooking the soup before the vegetables loose their vibrant color. If the soup is too thin, add the cornstarch and water mixture and simmer for another 5-7 minutes until the soup begins to thicken.
Here are a couple garden tips to help you preserve the produce from your garden.
*Wash, core and slice your extra bell peppers from your garden and freeze in Ziploc bags. These will work great in soups, casseroles or enchiladas later in the year when prices go up on peppers.
*Rinse off and cut your garden herbs and pat dry. Place them in a freezer bag with a few drops of olive oil. Freeze them to use in future meals. The olive oil helps them remove easily from the baggies and it also adds a little extra flavor to your food. Fresh basil and parsley freeze beautifully this way and can be used fresh all year from your freezer. Freeze each herb separately so you don’t mix flavors.
*If you don’t have time to can or turn your tomatoes into salsa or spaghetti sauce, just wash them, core them and freeze them for later. Frozen tomatoes are great in future spaghetti sauce, salsas, homemade enchilada sauces, etc. Tomatillos also freeze very well once peeling has been removed and they have been washed. These are great to save for dressings, soups, salsas, etc.