A Bowl of Eat Local Wisdom: Lemongrass Tomato Soup

| 8/8/2011 3:14:05 PM

Tags: eat local, The Cleaner Plate Club, Beth Bader, local food, family farms, Storey Publishing,

The Cleaner Plate Club 

When my little girl and I head to the farmers market, we leave the house with an empty market basket and open minds. Of course, she already has her list in her head — cheese bread from the local baker, honey sticks from Joli’s bees, and fresh sheep’s milk cheese with rosemary. It’s a great list for a 6-year-old, really. 

As for this bigger kid, I’ve finally learned not to make a list, mental or otherwise. What ends up on the dinner table on Saturday night just ... happens. Almost always, it’s one ingredient that catches my eye — one flavor that makes my imagination work, and the recipe comes to me in that moment. 

One of the first farmers we visit at the market is a Thai family. Over the years, they have added new ingredients to our menus weekly — small green Thai eggplants, water spinach, fiery peppers, amaranth leaves, and some kind of greens that have no name in English and taste heavenly sautéed and paired with fish. Their table is a weekly source of inspiration for me, and this week is no exception, offering up lemongrass and cilantro. 

Across the way is one of my regular stops, heirloom tomatoes in a rainbow of colors. The farmer knows me well because of my pumpkin addiction. Come fall, I’ll buy over 100 lbs. of his exotic squash. He nods at my kiddo and puts in an extra pint of heirloom cherry tomatoes just for her along with my four ears of corn and 3 pounds of heirloom tomatoes. 

Two more stops, one for a head of red Russian garlic. I promise the farmer there that if he would just bring in the scapes in spring, I would buy these. For now, he’s been giving them away to restaurants, not realizing consumers would buy them. The last stop is the farmer on the end who only comes to market in August with 50 different varieties of peppers. I get a basket of the sweet ones that include chocolate-colored peppadews. He hands a curly, red sweet one to my kiddo and puts in a couple of extra hot pepper varieties for me. 

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