I've always been a farmers market kind of girl. Luckily, I've lived in a handful of places with thriving farmers markets. Winters farmers markets are my favorite because they're smaller, cozier. Also, the starchy, fulfilling root vegetables of winter are perfect for winter stews, soups, and roasts. These sorts of vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, etc) are consistently on the list of vegetables that are most important to buy organic (or as organically grown as possible).
Admittedly, I've always been a little afraid of homemade vegetable soup. Turns out, I'm very silly because it is so easy to throw together a comforting weekday meal with farmers market find and any vegetables on the verger of freezer burn in your fridge. For getting started, I used Martha Stewart's big batch vegetable soup, but I've been getting more brave lately, throwing in whatever feels right. The tomato paste is what makes the consistency right, though.
A few weeks ago, there were torrential downpours here in Corvallis. The local farms have had a tough break, losing crops to flooding. They've lost some customers, too, who won't buy the crops the farmers have left because it had to be treated with some minimal chemicals (after being contaminated by river water). But they're chugging along and I've been trying to support them by simmering, fulfilling winter soups like this one ...especially with Spring starting to feel around the corner.
And the best part? It freezes beautifully, so I've been enjoying vegetable soup for weeks now.