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Local Pairings: Winter Vegetable Soup & Cab Franc

Winter arrived in full force this week, my Canada Goose came out of storage and I had to dig for my dogs snow booties. It’s the kind of weather that makes you want to curl up at home with a good book, a glass of red wine and some hearty soups.

The winter months can make it a challenge to eat local, but we’ve done some taste testing and created a local winter vegetable soup you can make at home. Best part is, you can freeze some for later. We’ve paired it with a top rated Cab Franc from Red Newt Cellars in the Finger Lakes. While the Finger Lakes region is best known for Rieslings and Ice Wine, they do produce several top rated Cab Franc varietals, garnering ratings of mid to high 80s from Wine Spectator.

Go to winter vegetables are leeks, squash and parsnips. Leeks are an allium vegetable, which places them in the same family as onions and garlic, you can expect a similar but slightly more pungent and sulfuric smell to them. They should be cooked in a similar fashion, sauteed for about 5 minutes. Winter Squash grows in the summer and is harvested when the fruit is not entirely mature. When you prepare a Winter Squash for a soup or chili, we recommend roasting it with either coconut oil or grapeseed oil until its skin can be punctured with a fork. This is usually at 400F for 55 minutes. The slow roasting combined with the oils really releases the squash's natural flavor and tenderizes its meat. Finally parsnips. A parsnip is a root vegetable similar to carrots and parsley and tastes like a combination of the two. Here, you just peel, chop and add them to the pot. They will soften as you add more ingredients and keep stirring.

When making soups I like to make use of what I have as well as the local vegetables that I’m featuring.  If I know I am going to use a roasted squash, I’ll prepare that first. While its roasting I’ll gather the other ingredients.

For this soup I’ll start with the leeks and 2-4 garlic cloves, depending on size and love of garlic. The leeks should be sliced in thin medallions and sauteed until translucent. Next I’ll add a can of pinto beans or some previous simmered pinto beans (the NY Times Cooking site has an easy recipe). Add in the chopped carrots and parsnips next. Keep stirring until everything is soft and tender. Around this time, the squash should be ready. Remove from the oven and add into the pot, add 4 cups of vegetable broth. Keep stirring!

While stirring add in 2 pinches of red chili flakes, 1 teaspoons cumin, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, 2 bay leaves, sliced mint is optional. Garnish with grated parmesan if desired.  

In keeping with our local goals, we picked the Cab Franc over the more popular Riesling for several reasons.  First, we didn’t want something you had to chill, it doesn’t jive with our cozy winter nights. Second, the roasted winter squash will act as the meat of this soup and robust enough to be complemented by a strong, but not overpowering red. Third, the peppery nature of the grape is yet another compliment to the more earthier flavors found in this soup.

We hope you have a chance to make this at home. Enjoy and stay warm!


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