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  • Mj Pettengill

Good Soup and a Pure Heart

Updated: Aug 11


Garden Delights, Mj Pettengill
Garden Delights, Mj Pettengill

When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. This statement is an excellent guide to live by. As I have stated many times before, I come from a long line of farmers. It may not have helped my stock portfolio (if I had one) or been a free pass into an Ivy League school. Still, the benefits of what I have learned from my predecessors are invaluable, continuing to enrich my life in countless ways.

I recall watching my grandmother, the original Maryjane, toiling in the massive gardens at the farm. Following her time in the fields was her time in the kitchen. I was in awe of her patience and connection to the plants and living things in her midst. I was even more impressed with her ability to can and preserve when I got a little older.

She was called upon by many for her delicious piccalilli made from a recipe passed down from her mother. She was a simple woman and didn't comprehend just how special she was, which made her even more special.

I was excited when my mother looked through her stuff and found Nana's piccalilli recipe, written in her own hand on the back of an Exxon envelope. Of course, I laminated it and have used it over the past decade or more.

My father raved about Nana's strawberry rhubarb jam, which was the primary lesson I had with her in the first days of motherhood. She taught me to use the paraffin method, which I enjoyed for many years.

Fast forward to today, after I have raised my children on our small, abundant farm, I have become a pro at canning. I barely have to read the recipes and instructions, but I do to keep myself in check. I dare to and often create my own recipes. This is essential when you are aware of the significance of sustainable living. While we face uncertainties with our food supplies and distribution, we must be mindful of how we treat our resources and consider the immediate and long-term future.

Keeping an eye on the organic gardens via watering and weeding, once it is time to harvest, one must have the proper canning and freezing equipment on hand. With the lapse in the reliability of the food supply chain and distribution, planning ahead is essential. Even before these times, finding the necessary canning equipment during the peak season may be challenging. Planning ahead is wise.

We often have smaller amounts of produce on hand between significant harvests. Of course, eating fresh from the garden is a valuable perk that can never be underestimated. However, at times we must make a decision about what to do with the extras.

I suggest making soup. Actually, I do believe that, as quoted by Ludwig van Beethoven, “Anyone who tells a lie has not a pure heart and cannot make a good soup.” (This quote has a few variations, so please go with it.)

I have already canned four different soup recipes using our farm's produce. I simply created a soup with the leftovers from the garden. All you need to do is add onions, garlic, spices, and flavoring relating to your taste, and you're good. If you want a pure vegan or vegetarian soup, make a broth accordingly. You can use bone broth to add flavor and base if you are not in that world. You're at the helm.

Today was a day of pulling together the current garden delights to make soup before the next wave of veggies is ready for picking. Not only is this perfect for the preservation of good, organic produce, but it will also provide sustenance in the short, dark days of winter.

There is nothing like savoring the greenness of summer—the fruits of your labor created in oppressive heat—during a cold snap. And you know exactly what's in your stew. Not only does it contain the gems of your labor and land, but it is also made with your loving hands.

I hope to inspire you to think in terms of making every bit of your efforts count. Of course, you can toss the leftover garden veggies into the compost and give them to a neighbor or friend. But once you enter into the industrious role as farmer and/or farmer's wife, there is no turning back.

If you don't have your own garden space, it is the time of year to attend the local farmer's markets. Go and support them while planning ahead for yourself and your family. It is the season to give to the Earth Mother, and She gives back.

Be prepared. Celebrate the many green blessings and offerings in our midst.


Good Soup, Mj Pettengill
Good Soup, Mj Pettengill