Good news. I'm am FINALLY joining Slow Food USA. This is the month that they are allowing you to choose the price of your membership instead of the regular $60. They are a wonderful organization committed to real and fair food. It is great to get involved with others that feel the same way you do, even though they don't share the Word of Wisdom with us.
This month is particularly important as Slow Food is trying to get the word out about Time for Lunch Campaign. The Child Nutrition Act is coming up for re-authorization at the end of this month and it is something we should care about. Why? The goal is that this time we will do better for all kids. I know that many of us pack lunches and stop thinking about nutrition at schools from that moment on, but sometimes others need a hand up to help with what they haven't gotten from home.
The hopes for this re-authorization is to provide funding for meals made of up real food (not food products), protect kids from food that is putting them at risk, support sourcing from local farms, and teach kids how to eat healthy whole foods for life. So be proactive if any of this matters to you; write your elected officals and sign the petition, and most importantly, start at home. Go cook something delicious to win over any veggie-shy naysayers.
I present to you my latest victory in my ongoing efforts to have my family hugging carrots all winter long: Carrot and Red Pepper Soup. Fresh, young carrots and peppers from my farmer's market came together in one of the best soups I have had in a long time. I served this with roasted jalapeno and goat cheese scones and everyone from my husband, preschooler and the baby all voted for a repeat in the next few weeks.
And before you start, here is a quick tip to enhance your soup and use up what may otherwise go to waste. Many of your fruit and vegetable trimmings can be simmered to produce a quick vegetable stock. Throw in some apple peelings and cores, chard stems, carrot peelings and the like and simmer for 25 minutes to an hour and add some great flavor to your next soup. This couldn't be easier- just peel and trim into a pot instead of the sink.
Carrot and Red Pepper Soup
Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone
2 T. butter or olive oil
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 cups diced onion
1 lb. carrots, thinly sliced
2 T. white rice
Sea salt and freshly milled pepper
2 T. parsley, chopped
3 T. dill chopped or 1 1/2 T. dried dill
Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
6 cups water or basic vegetable stock
Melt the butter in a soup pot and add the pepper, onion, carrots, rice and 1 teaspoon sea salt. Cook over medium heat, covered until the onion has softened completely, about 10 minutes, stirring several times. Add a grind of pepper, the parsley, dill, orange zest, juice and water. Bring to a boil, then simmer, partially covered, until the rice is cooked, about 25 minutes. Cool briefly, then puree all but a cup or two of the soup and return it to the pot. Taste for salt, season with pepper, garnish and serve. This soup may be served hot as well as chilled.