For farmers' markets to thrive at any location, it’s important that it work well for the farmers financially. It takes a significant amount of family farm resources to prepare for and staff every farmers' market. On April 28th or close to that date, we plan to start a program making "ProducePaks" available to Kaiser Permanente employees in the 1800 Harrison building in downtown Oakland.
Currently, the 2,200 employees in that building do not have an onsite market and rarely get over to the Oakland Medical Center to visit its market. Those employees will be able to subscribe online for a weekly delivery of seasonal, local, organic fruits and vegetables to their office site. Farmers from the Oakland Medical Center's market will provide the food. It should work to the benefit of everyone involved. The farmers will be able to sell more of their produce without having to staff another market. Kaiser Permanente employees will get fresh food delivered to their office building lobby for pick-up. People will be able to trade vegetables in the elevators. More people may be encouraged to eat 5 servings per day of fruits and vegetables.
This week's recipe started out as a version of "Stone Soup". Many of you may remember that children's story — the soup started out with a stone and water and everyone in the village contributed vegetables. Soon a delicious vegetable soup was ready for all. The soup of the week started out with chicken broth. I found spinach, leeks and fennel at the market. The soup turned out to be very green, low fat, fluffy and tasty.
Servings: 4 as an appetizer
- One large fennel bulb, diced
- 3 to 4 medium leeks, diced
- One large bunch of spinach, washed and drained or about 6 cups spinach leaves, loosely packed
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 4 cups chicken broth
- Salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Heat the olive oil in a soup pot. Sauté about 4 cups of diced fennel and leeks over low heat until softened, about 15 minutes. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Simmer another 10 minutes until the fennel is tender, and then add the spinach leaves. They will wilt down to a much smaller volume. Simmer a few more minutes. Purée the soup in batches using a blender or use an immersion blender right in the soup pot. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If you want the soup to be thicker and richer, add more spinach, then simmer and purée again. Stir in the parsley just before serving. This is a great way to get a little calcium and other vitamins into your diet.