Eating with the season — not the same foods or dishes month after month — allows the vegetables and dishes we consume to mirror the time of year and our bodies’ responses to the weather. Spring is light and green with small bursts of sweetness, much like the new leaves and budding blooms. Summer is brimming with so many flavors and colors, all juicy, vibrant, and full. Fall is rich and earthier — as the leaves move towards the ground, so do our foods’ colors and flavors. Winter is the most grounded, with root vegetables, hardy greens, wholesome grains, and fermented foods (which traditionally were fermented underground). Winter has always been a time to hunker down, and our seasonal, local foods help us to do so.
What better dish is there for winter than soup? At area farmers tailgate markets, the many combinations of ingredients to choose from can yield a near-infinite array of soup. Make a soup base with leeks and garlic from Ten Mile Farm, carrots from Fiddlers’ Green Farm or Paper Crane Farm, and celery from New Moon Herbs, all available at Asheville City Market. You can also include chicken or beef from Shady Brook Farm or Dry Ridge Farm (or Bradley Farms at YMCA Indoor Market – South in Fletcher) to add a meat component to your base.
What will you create once you have your base? Root vegetable soups are a great starting point. Try cubing and roasting the veggies first (any combination will do: sweet potatoes and carrots, beets and turnips, or all the root vegetables together). Once roasted, add them to your base — you can keep the root vegetables intact in their cubed pieces, minimally mash them to make a “chunky-style” soup, or blend in a food processor to create a puree.
From there, you can add a wide range of ingredients. Perhaps pasta from Salted Ravioli Company. Dark leafy greens such as collards or mustard. Beans from Ten Mile Farm. Sausage from Dry Ridge Farm. Make cornmeal dumplings using cornmeal from Ten Mile Farm. You might also create a “cream of” style soup with cream from Mills River Creamery through Brittain Farms at the YMCA Indoor Market – South in Fletcher.
Whatever soup you dream up, the farmers and vendors at winter farmers markets can help you make it a reality.
Check out the full list of 2017 winter markets throughout the region. As always, you can find information about farms, tailgate markets, and farm stands, including locations and hours, by visiting our online Local Food Guide.