Friday, October 28, 2011

Nourishing an Occupation 3: Vegetable Soup

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This episode of 'Nourishing an Occupation' is about using the ingredients on hand to make something delicious and nutritious. One night when I was visiting Occupy Poughkeepsie, I noticed that someone had donated a bunch of fresh vegetables - potatoes, carrots, celery, zucchini, peppers, and cabbage. These are wonderful, vitamin-rich foods, but the encampment isn't really set up to cook and I couldn't picture anyone munching on a raw cabbage or potato. I know it can be done, I just didn't see it happening. So I offered to take them home and turn them into soup. I say take them 'home' but I actually didn't make this soup at home. I was staying with Friends Val & Bob Suter for a couple of days so it was their kitchen I messed up with my chopping and concocting and their spice stash I raided for flavors.

As usual, I started by chopping several large cloves of garlic and 2 large onions and sauteing them in olive oil in my largest soup pot. When it was translucent, I added 8 carrots with their skin on and 4 stalks of celery. After they had cooked a bit, I added a large can of whole tomatoes and a large can of diced tomatoes. I broke up the whole tomatoes with my paddle. I added a fews cans full of water to the pot. While it was heating up, I kept chopping vegetables and throwing them in:

6 potatoes, skin on
1 large rutabaga, peeled
1 large green pepper
3 zucchini squash
1 medium head of cabbage.

There were so many vegetables, I had to add more water to the pot.

While this simmered, I seasoned the broth with 2 cubes of 'Not-Chick'n Bouillon', soy sauce, red pepper flakes, black pepper, and a seasoning blend from Adam's Market that the Suter's had in their cupboard that seemed to be a cross between Abodo and Old Bay.

This was so much soup that even after taking it down to Occupy Poughkeepsie and feeding everyone on site, I still had half of it left. On the next day, Saturday, a big rally and march were planned and a lot of extra people were expected. I decided to take the leftover soup home, add to it, and bring it back for lunch.

The next morning, I put the soup back on the stove and added more carrots and celery. These are the veggies I had left. I added more water and more seasoning.

I took the soup back down a little before noon and started serving it up. It was a beautiful day and lots of people showed up to take part in the rally. Most of them were surprised to be offered a hot bowl of soup - but radical hospitality is as big a part of the message of the movement as any slogan on a sign. The only picture I got of the camp that morning is before people started showing up; after they arrived, I was busy playing improvised music with my friend Noah.

While I was talking to others who attended the march and the later General Assembly, I found other people who had been bringing food or who wanted to start bringing food. We decided to get together and coordinate our efforts so that we all wouldn't bring food on the same night and that every night the full-time occupiers would have a hot, nutritious home-cooked meal.

We call ourselves 'Occupy Poughkeepsie Moms & Dads' even though most of us are not parents of the full-time occupiers. We care about the goals of the movement and would rather support it by providing food and comfort than by sleeping in the park. Since we took this photo, the group has grown to 14 people and we've provided hot meals every night for 2 weeks. We've also taken on providing blankets and insulation, having a list of nurses on-call for medical questions, and are working on getting flu shots for any occupier who wants one.

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