When I came to Seattle, I was most excited about shopping for my produce at the Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle. I was so wrapped up in this amazing city market that I didn’t even consider the thought of visiting other farmers markets around the Seattle area. Little did I know, there are a number of farmer’s markets in the different neighborhoods of Seattle that are just as good (if not better!) and so much less crowded than the Pike Place Market. This weekend I took a trip to the University District’s farmers market which happens to be pretty well known around the city. It is Seattle’s oldest and largest “farmers only” farmers market that featurs 50 Washington state farmers, is open year-round, and was named one of America’s best farmers markets by Travel + Leisure…pretty cool!
Sadly, I didn’t have my camera with me to snap any pictures of all of the gorgeous produce, but I do have some pictures (and a recipe) of one of my final products from my market buys. This soup was inspired by a bunch of beautiful leeks that I eyed at one of the stands. One glance at the leeks brought visions of spring green risotto swirling in my head. I remembered how the leeks got all soft and velvety and had a wonderful and unique flavor that I couldn’t get enough of. While originally I had a leek and potato soup in mind when I bought the leeks, I found this zucchini, leek, and bean soup at Bitchin’ Camero’s blog and thought it was a much more suitable recipe for the end of August. It seemed like a great soup to ease the way into the fall season.
It uses late summer and early fall produce (zucchini and leeks), and gets its creaminess from the cannelini beans to make a light, yet filling meal. To top it off, the homemade croutons are crucial to this soup. I’ve never made my own croutons before and I don’t think I can ever go back to the store-bought kind. It was the perfect way to use up some borderline old wheat bread that I had in my fridge, and combined with some olive oil and parmesan cheese, it brought the bread back to a new life. There was one surprising aspect of this soup that I also really loved: the parsley garnish. I loved the flavor that it added so much that I actually went back for seconds. Yes, I went back for seconds on the garnish. While I ate it alone (and saved room for dessert!) this could be paired with a salad or sandwich for a great lunch or dinner!
Before I get to the recipe, check out this bouquet that I snagged from the market! Five dollars! One of the greatest things about the markets here are that flowers are incredibly cheap…there are tons and tons of gorgeous bouquets for $5-10. What an affordable way to surprise your girlfriend with something pretty! (hint hint, Marc!)
Zucchini, Leek and White Bean Soup
adapted from Bitchin camero
2 tbsp olive oil
3 leeks, thoroughly rinsed and thinly sliced (white and light green parts only)
2 medium-large zucchini, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups vegetable broth
1 (15 oz) can cannelini beans
1 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
In large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add leeks and cook until they are have softened, about 7-10 minutes. Add zucchini, garlic, and broth and bring to a simmer. Let it simmer 7 minutes longer, until the zucchini have softened, but aren’t too mushy.
Add the beans, salt, paprika, and balsamic vinegar and stir to combine. Remove from heat. Using an immersion blender or blender, puree soup. If using a blender, return soup to pot. Add parmesan cheese and stir to combine. Add more salt and pepper to taste.
Homemade Parmesan Croutons
6 slices wheat bread, cut into 1″ pieces
3 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
In medium bowl, combine diced bread, olive oil, and parmesan cheese. Toss to thoroughly combine. Spread onto prepared baking sheet. Bake 10-15 minutes, or until bread is golden brown.