Wednesday, May 12, 2010

What’s growing in your garden?

Only one month to go until the Montavilla Market rings the first bell of the season. I’m already looking forward to saying hello to familiar faces and meeting new vendors and filling my basket with good stuff. In the meantime, I visit our raised beds on a daily (and sometimes hourly) basis to see if the seedlings have gotten any bigger overnight. Last season, we figured out that by adding PVC hoops and heavy-gauge plastic over our raised beds that we could extend our growing season. And perhaps more importantly we could keep the squirrels and cats from making a mess of the neatly ordered rows of seeds. The greenhouse effect in practical, useful application. The soil stays warm, the air stays moist, and the result is happy radishes and salad greens in early April. These are the things that keep me happy in spring and help build anticipation until I can ride down to the farmer’s market to fill my bags with a variety of vegetables that I could only dream of growing in my backyard.
A couple of weeks ago, I harvested my first bunch of radishes - Cherry Belles and French Breakfast. As with the first harvest, many of them only got a quick rinse and were eaten directly from the radish top, enjoying the crisp, fresh flavor. But with subsequent weeks, I will save them to be sliced up in salads, grated and added to slaws for a peppery bite.
For those of you who like to get every last bit of usefulness out of your garden, there are even recipes for using the radish greens, though I can’t admit to doing anything but adding them to the compost pile:

Radish Top Soup

6 Tbsp butter

1 cup chopped onions or leeks

8 cups loosely packed radish leaves

2 cups diced peeled potatoes

6 cups liquid (water, chicken stock)


1/2 cup cream (optional)

Freshly ground pepper

Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan, add onions or leeks, and cook until golden, approximately 5 minutes. Stir in radish tops, cover pan, and cook over low heat until wilted, 8-10 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook potatoes until soft in liquid along with 1 teaspoon salt. Combine with radish tops and broth, and cook, covered, for 5 minutes to mingle flavors. Puree finely in a food processor. Add cream if desired. Season to taste with butter, salt and pepper.

So what is growing in your garden this spring? Or what are you looking forward to buying at the first week of the Montavilla Farmer’s Market?


  1. Argh. I cut off radish tops last Saturday and set them aside to cook later. Later turned out to be the next day, by which time they had dried out. Next time, though, I'll have to try this soup!

  2. Seasonal Abundance, how did you like the soup? I'm with true_slicky in missing the moment on the tops. However, if you're picking them fresh, they've got to be delish.

    Could you not add the potatoes to the broth and cook with the greens? Or might this overcook the radish tops?

    Thanks for posting.

  3. Gretchan-
    You could probably parboil the potatoes so that you aren't overcooking the tops. The radishes in my garden are done for now. We made it through the first spring planting and I've been having problems getting the second batch to come up. Might be that I'm too impatient (who me? never)
    I would LOVE it if you would try out the recipe and report back.
    I'm off to find the perfect recipe for my bigger-than-my-hands chard leaves.

  4. So I have excess cilantro left over from the pico de gallo I made last weekend. And after a New Seasons run I have all ingredients for soup. Would cilantro be good to add to taste, or is that a bad idea?

  5. We made the soup last nite and it was a great compliment to the cooler weather. This soup is so versatile, you could really use just about any green, and cilantro sounds great too.

    We liked it both pureed and also whole (just chop the stems into 1/4" size) with the chunks of potato and beautiful deep colored greens.

    We tried it with cream and without and it was good both ways.

    For my batch, I ended up making broth from leftover trimmings in the freezer. What I discovered however is that using the boiling water for the potatoes is also an acceptable substitute, especially if you have no broth on hand and will be using water anyways.

    Myself and son Rory, age 6 were the testers.