After a stretch of unseasonably warm days, wintry temperatures have returned. Meanwhile, New Year’s resolutions may have you vowing to eat your leafy greens. All of this points clearly to one recourse: make soup.
Specifically, Italian wedding soup is warm and filling, while offering a great vehicle for escarole, an often-overlooked winter green, available this past week from Wildwood Herbal (Asheville City Market-Winter). Escarole is a member of the chicory family, often used in Italian cuisine, and is somewhat less bitter than other chicories. Round out your soup with pork, beef, or turkey meatballs (East Fork Farm and Dry Ridge Farm at Asheville City Market-Winter have a variety of ground meats), carrots, Parmesan, and small pasta, such as ditalini, pearl couscous, or even broken up pieces of spaghetti. Homemade stock will give you the most nourishing and flavorful soup possible.
Escarole also does well braised with beans (with or without a bit of bacon or pork sausage); blanched and sautéed with garlic (available from Ten Mile Farm at Asheville City Market-Winter); or in a salad (the inner leaves are the least bitter when eaten raw).
Look for other winter greens, root vegetables, bread, eggs, meat, flowers, and more at area winter markets, such as Black Mountain Winter Market (Saturdays, 10am-3pm), Boone Winter Farmers’ Market (1st and 3rd Saturdays of each month, 9am-noon), Columbus Winter Tailgate Market (Saturdays, 9-11am), Franklin Farmers “Winter” Tailgate Market (Saturdays, 10am-noon), Jackson County Winter Farmers Market (Saturdays, 10am-1pm), Rutherford County Winter Farmers Market (3rd Saturday of each month, 9am-noon), Spruce Pine Farmers Market Indoor Winter Market (1st Saturday of each month, noon-4pm), Transylvania Farmers Market (Saturdays, 10am-noon), and Nourish Knoxville’s Winter Market (every other Saturday, 10am-2pm).
Area farmers tailgate markets take place throughout the region. As always, you can find information about farms, tailgate markets, and farm stands, including locations and hours, by visiting ASAP’s online Local Food Guide at appalachiangrown.org.