Did you think I was referring to the weather? Nope. I’m talking about freezing fresh produce.
I just don’t have the time this year to do much canning so, freezing is my option right now. And why not use some fresh veggies right now and make soup!
We are so blessed to be part of the Farmer Markets. Almost every market we do (which is 6 a week) we end up with fresh produce and other goodies at the end of the day. Most of the vendors we have gotten to know over the past 3 years. Everyone becomes a family of sorts.
As you can see, a lot of these tomatoes have bad spots or at the point of being overripe. They need to be dealt with now.
After I take out what produce I think we will be able to eat within the next couple of days, the rest gets cleaned, chopped and bagged up for the freezer.
Today I am dealing with all the fresh bell peppers, tomatoes and corn on the cob.
I like to freeze several packages with just the tops cut off and the seeds scraped out. Those get used for stuffed green peppers during the winter.
No wasting that top part I cut off for the whole peppers! The princess thinks I cut these into a “flower” shape just special for her. Who am I to disagree! And I don’t waste all the peelings and scraps, they all go into our compost bin.
I don’t dice my bell peppers. I just cut large chunks. Why you ask? Because 95% off the frozen bell peppers will be used in soup over the winter. I will generally puree them with other veggies for soup base. Normally I would just go ahead and puree a bunch of veggies and can them so I would have plenty of vegetable stock for the winter. But, I just don’t have the time today and these peppers need to be dealt with now.
However, I will make several frozen bags of chopped peppers, onions and herbs so that they are ready for a soup base. I add water to those bags. That way the veggies and herbs start flavoring the water right away and no freezer burn. When I need it, I just let a bag thaw in the fridge and then blend them all in the blender.
Right now is the time to buy veggies cheap. Take advantage of these prices. Head to your local farmers market and load up with as much fresh produce as you can afford. Whatever is not going to be eaten within a few days, clean, chop and freeze them. You don’t have to make a big production of it and you don’t need to can.
Here is a little tip for the Farmer’s Market:
If you are wanting to can or freeze some veggies, stop by your local FM at almost the end of the market day and ask the produce vendors if they have any bruised, marked or too ripe produce they would like to sell at a lower price. Most produce vendors would rather sell the less than perfect fruits and veggies otherwise they often have to just throw them away. Let them know that you are planning on canning or freezing so you are fine with cutting out the bad parts.
Not every produce vendor will do this but, a lot do.
Now, onto the soup!
Stuffed Bell Pepper Soup
Everyone has a different version of this soup. This is my version.
1 - 1 1/2 cups of chopped up bell peppers
2 cups of chopped up tomatoes
1 chopped up onion
3 cloves of garlic
1 can of chicken broth
2 can of water
a can to tomato paste or sauce
1 & 1/2 cups of cooked rice
1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon of dried sage
1 Tablespoon of sugar
1 pound of cooked and crumbled hamburger
Salt and pepper to taste
Throw the first 4 ingredients into a blender and puree (a lot of folks prefer it chunky, I don’t)
If you want a deeper green pepper taste, just add more to the blender.
Pour into slow cooker (or pot) and add all the other ingredients. Cook for a couple of hours or so.
This soup thickens as it cooks. I like to add a little heat to mine but, I generally don’t add it to the pot because of the Princess.
Super easy and delicious!
Soup with bread and butter….perfection!