I just love that the White House now has it’s own garden. And smack, right on the South Lawn, facing the Mall, for all to see (sort of, if you are standing on your husband’s shoulders and craning like a lunatic). There are even some great bee hives right along side it. As someone who would love to have her own big vegetable garden someday (that actually produces something), I find this inspiring. Every person out there-and child, in particular-needs to taste a carrot right out of the earth, a sun-warmed tomato right off the vine or fresh peas, right out of the pod, crunchy and fresh. No stores or extra-hands as a middle-man. To do this is to truly appreciate food in all it’s glory.
Some interesting facts about the White House gardens:
1. John Adams (2nd President) planted the very first White House garden in 1800.
2. In 1835, there was a greenhouse attached to the White House (known as The Orangery and started by Andrew Jackson) where tropical fruit was grown. Eventually, it was demolished and now we have The West Wing.
3. In 1943, Franklin Roosevelt and First Lady Eleanor planted a Victory Garden began because of food shortages due to the war. This movement of planting household gardens resulted in millions of gardens across the U.S., which produced about 40% of America’s vegetables (wow!)
4. Peanut Farmer Jimmy Carter declined offers to plant a veggie garden at the White House. Maybe someone should have suggested peanuts.
5. Hillary Clinton had a garden, but it was on the roof of the White House.
6. Michelle Obama’s garden is the largest and most expansive ever so far, producing 55 varieties of vegetables. A portion of the yields grown are used for White House meals and another portion of them are donated to a local soup kitchen and food bank.
So, to continue with my ode to Presidential healthier eating initiatives….here’s a healthy soup recipe. It’s 14 degrees out there today, folks, time for soup!
Broccoli Soup, courtesy of White House Chef Cristeta Comorford
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 6 garlic cloves, sliced
- 4 shallots, sliced
- 1 leek, white part only, sliced
- 1 sprig thyme
- 1 small onion, sliced
- 2 heads broccoli, stems sliced, and green tips reserved for puree
- 8 cups chicken stock
- 1 bay leaf
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a medium-size saucepan, over medium heat, add the garlic, shallots, leeks, onion and thyme. Sweat in the butter until fragrant.
Add the broccoli stem slices and saute until softened.
Pour in the chicken stock and bay leaf and simmer for about 20 minutes.
In the meantime, blanch the broccoli tips in a pot of boiling water over medium heat until bright green. Remove the tips from the water and “shock” in a bowl of iced water.
Drain the green tips and puree in a blender. Set aside.
Puree the soup in a blender and strain through a fine chinoise into a large serving bowl.
Add the green tip puree and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Serve piping hot with crusty bread and a smile.