WINNER'S KITCHEN: Bringing the harvest home

Soup and bruschetta make great ways to use up farmers market finds, as well as experiment in the kitchen

click to enlarge WINNER'S KITCHEN: Bringing the harvest home
August Frank/Inland 360
Produce is displayed at the Lewiston Farmers Market, which runs from 8 a.m. to noon through Sept. 30 at CHS Primeland. This weekend's market is canceled because of the Lewiston Roundup Parade.

Summer is coming to a close, which means it’s harvest season. And the produce is absolutely stunning — if not overwhelming.

If you’re anything like me, you go to the farmers market with a serious case of “eyes bigger than stomach.” The fruits and vegetables are all so tempting, and you want to try them all. As much as I try to map my meals for the week, I’m often left with fresh produce in need of using before it spoils. And we all know someone panicking because their garden is overflowing with zucchini. That’s the beauty of this time of year, and I’m grateful for it.

Nevertheless, the question remains: What do we do with the surplus? For this column, I’ve improvised with ingredients I usually have around. In the spirit of reducing food waste as well as creativity in the kitchen, substitutions are encouraged based on what you have available.

click to enlarge WINNER'S KITCHEN: Bringing the harvest home (2)
August Frank/Inland 360
Roasted vegetable soup.

Soup and bruschetta are both forgiving dishes with which to explore new flavors. Soup can contain just about anything and will almost always taste good — and make you feel even better. Bruschetta, by definition, is just bread toasted with olive oil and rubbed with garlic. The toppings can include any number of options, which is what makes it so fun and experimental.


Cook time: 1-1 ½ hours

Serves 4-6


  • 4 red bell peppers
  • 1 small hot pepper of choice
  • 2 pounds ripe tomatoes
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 onion
  • 2 small zucchini or summer squash
  • 1 head garlic
  • Vegetable stock
  • Fresh basil
  • Olive oil
  • Honey, to taste
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the croutons: (optional)

  • Bread of choice
  • Cheese of choice
  • Olive oil


Cook time: 1-1 ½ hours

Serves 4-6

  • 2 pounds beets
  • 4 ounces goat cheese
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, Neufchâtel or mascarpone
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 loaf fresh bread of choice
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced parsley
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Start by prepping all vegetables and preheating the oven to 400 degrees.

Peel and trim the tomatoes, peppers and beets. Dice the celery, onion and carrots, creating what’s called a mirepoix. Dice the zucchini and set aside. Halve the head of garlic crosswise, keeping the halves intact.

Add the tomatoes and hot pepper to one baking sheet atop aluminum foil. Toss with salt, pepper and olive oil, using your hands. Drizzle a tablespoon of honey on the tomatoes and set aside.

Halve any large beets and toss with salt, pepper and olive oil. Add them to half of a second baking sheet, wrapping them in aluminum foil. To the other half of the same baking sheet, add the halved bell peppers and garlic. Toss with salt, pepper, and olive oil, using your hands.

Roast the two baking sheets for 45 minutes. Remove the tomatoes; leave the beets and peppers in the oven for 15 more minutes.


Add a drizzle of olive oil to a soup pot heated to medium-high. Add the mirepoix (the diced celery, onion and carrots) and let cook for about 5 minutes, stirring to prevent burning. Add the diced zucchini and cook for an additional five minutes. Add the vegetable stock to the pot, a step known as deglazing.
Remove the beets and peppers from the oven. Set the beets aside.
click to enlarge WINNER'S KITCHEN: Bringing the harvest home (3)
August Frank/Inland 360
Beet bruschetta.

Add the tomatoes and peppers to the pot. Bring the pot to a simmer and cover. When ready to serve, add fresh basil leaves and blend the soup to your liking with either a blender or immersion blender. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add honey if the tanginess needs to be balanced.


Blend the cream cheese and goat cheese in a food processor, thinning with water or vegetable stock as needed. Set aside.

Mince the parsley and finely chop the shallot. Add to a jar with the vinegars, salt and pepper, and olive oil. Shake the jar until the vinaigrette is emulsified.

Dice the cooked beets and toss with the vinaigrette.


Slice the bread into 8-12 quarter-inch slices. Add the bread slices to the baking sheet used for the tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil and roast for 10-15 minutes.

If opting to make croutons for the soup, cut any remaining bread into cubes and toss with olive oil. Grate your favorite cheese on top of the croutons (I used gruyere) and roast with the bruschetta slices.


Remove the bruschetta and croutons from the oven. Carefully rub the halved garlic head onto the hot bread. The heat will help the garlic break down and give it incredible flavor.

Serve the soup and top with extra basil leaves, tomatoes and croutons. Spoon the goat cheese mixture onto the bruschetta and top with the beets.

Where to find:

click to enlarge WINNER'S KITCHEN: Bringing the harvest home (4)
August Frank/Inland 360
Madison Winn picks out beets at the Lewiston Farmers Market.

As we near the end of summer, consider visiting your local farmer’s markets before they’re gone for the year. It’s a great way to meet people and learn where your food comes from. Consuming in-season vegetables is also a great way to eat more locally.

Tips for success:

Homemade vegetable stock is easy to make and delicious. I typically save my vegetable scraps in the freezer for a couple of months at a time, then make a batch. Use the scraps of vegetables such as celery, onion, carrots and leeks. Avoid vegetables belonging to the Brassicaceae family (broccoli, kale, cabbage, etc.) as well as peppers, squash and potatoes. These vegetables will make the stock cloudy and bitter.

Flavorful additions to stock include herb stems, bay leaves, garlic, peppercorns and apples. I typically add whole carrots, onions and celery stalks in addition to the scraps to help ensure the broth is richly flavored.

In a large pot, add all stock ingredients and cover completely with water. Bring to a simmer and cover; let this simmer for at least an hour, season with salt to taste and then you have delicious broth for cooking or drinking.

Except for the bruschetta and croutons, everything can be made ahead of time.

As we welcome fall, this is my call for you to experiment with new ingredients in the spirit of using what you have. Food waste sometimes happens with our busy schedules, and we shouldn’t get down on ourselves when it does. Instead, try preventing it by making a delicious soup for your household.
The possibilities are endless.

click to enlarge WINNER'S KITCHEN: Bringing the harvest home (5)
Madison Winn walks out of a Lewiston Farmers Market booth with some choice finds.

Winn is a home cook and farmer’s market maniac. She can be reached at @food_for_winners on Instagram or at