Monday, March 10

Broccoli Onion Garbanzo Bean Soup Recipe & Recharging Your Dead Batteries (Because Setting Them On Fire Isn't An Option)

Donkey Doodle Dandy On Fire Watch Duty

There are many things to love about living on a very remote farm. You can, for instance, go outside and howl at the top of your lungs at the coyotes at midnight, blast the stereo until the speakers threaten to blow, or run around the yard naked because there's no one around to care. (Not that I ever do the naked yard thing.) You also don't have to worry that the neighbors are going to complain about the dogs barking or the donkeys braying or the sheep baaing or the rooster crowing.

On the other hand, there are certain luxuries that I completely took for granted before moving to the middle of nowhere. Like mail delivery. And Chinese food delivery. And garbage pick up. Yes, you might want to take a few seconds to contemplate the enormity of that last one; I'll wait.

We're very fortunate, however, to have a wonderful recycling center only 35 miles away, which is practically down the street by rural Missouri standards. They happily take the feed sacks we've refilled with glass, metal, plastic containers labeled #1 and #2, cardboard, newspaper, and even glossy junk mail.

When you add in the food waste that we toss to the chickens and in the compost bins, plus the bag of stuff earmarked for the thrift store, the magazines headed for the library 'free' box, the empty wine and champagne bottles we leave at the natural foods store for people who make their own wine and beer (we put our homebrewed beer in 12-ounce bottles that we reuse over and over), plus the pile of newspapers we keep for starting fires in the woodstove, we have no fewer than 13 different garbage receptacles. Houseguests are terrified to throw anything away and ask things like, "Do chickens eat avocado skins?" "Can you compost dryer lint?" and "What should I do with this band-aid?"

We also reuse as much stuff as we can around the farm. Styrofoam mushroom containers and plastic food containers become seed starting pots that are labeled with strips I cut from unrecyclable #5 plastic sour cream tubs. Rows of large, clear plastic jugs that once held peanuts now neatly organize metal nuts and bolts and nails in Joe's shop. Plastic seltzer bottles are refilled with water and turned into long lasting ice packs for coolers. And #5 cottage cheese containers hold the homemade dog/cat/chicken food I make up in big batches and freeze.

Paper that's wet or dirty is burned, and anything else is put in what we call the 'trash trash' bag. It usually takes us at least a week to fill up one small plastic grocery sack with trash trash, which I think is pretty neat. You can pay a per-bag fee to dump trash trash at the recycling center, but because we generate so little they usually take ours for free. Plus I bring them cookies.

Burning all of your trash is very common around here, and before I moved in with Joe he routinely burned a little more than he does now, using what he called 'accelerants' to 'help the fire get started.' His motto was Everything burns eventually. He did recycle large glass beer bottles, but I suspect that was only because he couldn't get them to ignite. One day about ten years ago, noticing that some dead batteries had something like 'please call for proper disposal information' printed on them, he decided to call the toll-free number.

As Joe tells it, the guy who answered the phone said that yes, batteries did indeed need to be disposed of properly, "but he wouldn't actually tell me what the proper way to dispose of them was." So they went round and round until finally Joe said, "Well then I'm just going to burn these dead batteries."

"You can't burn batteries!" the guy said.

"Why not?"

"You just can't!"

"Oh yes I can, I just toss them in the burn barrel. I've done it before."


I think this was about the point where Joe hung up the phone. Or maybe it was the battery guy who hung up on him. "He was getting really worked up."

Fortunately even borderline pyromaniacs can be converted into good little recyclers, and we all breathe easier now that my reformed hunky farmguy burns much smaller, more easily ignitable piles of trash. While we do still have the occasional discussion as to whether something is flammable or not (usually as I'm plucking it out of the garbage can saying, "You can't burn this!"), the battery issue was solved several years ago by the purchase of a couple of battery chargers and a bunch of rechargeable batteries.

I highly recommend this Sony Quick Batter Charger, which is the bestselling charger on for good reason. I've been using mine for over two years and love it. It comes with four Sony 2500 mAh AA Rechargeable Ni-MH Batteries and is an absolute steal at around 20 bucks, especially considering the price of disposable batteries these days. I'm still using the original batteries that came with the charger, along with a few four-packs of extra batteries I bought so that I always have four spares charged and ready to go in my digital camera, as well as enough for other things like flashlights. I use my camera several times a day, pretty much every day, and these batteries will last for several weeks. You can also charge AAA Ni-MH batteries with the Sony charger.

So the next time your batteries run out of power, I urge you to consider investing in some rechargeable ones. You'll be easing the strain on your wallet, the environment, and that poor guy answering the battery help hotline. Plus no accelerants required.

And if your own batteries could use a little recharging, I suggest a warm bowl of this deliciously simple broccoli soup. It tastes so good it's easy to forget how good it is for you.

Now if only you could plug in the empty pot and have it automatically refill itself.

Soup's On!

Easy Broccoli Onion Garbanzo Bean Soup

Loaded with onions, garlic, broccoli, and garbanzo beans - which are some of the World's Healthiest Foods - this cozy soup packs a powerhouse of nutrients. It's broccoli season right now, so you should have no trouble finding bunches that are both flavorful and inexpensive. In cooler climates, start looking for freshly harvested, organically grown broccoli at farmers' markets in the coming weeks.

I used to thicken my broccoli soup with a few tablespoons of uncooked rice, but one day I tossed a can of organic garbanzo beans (also called chickpeas, and one of my favorite foods) into the pot instead. I got the thickness I wanted along with more flavor, more fiber, and more protein.

Cans of organic beans are versatile pantry staples and can often be found for the bargain price of about a dollar apiece, or even less when they're on sale. Some stores such as Whole Foods will give you a case discount if you stock up and buy 12 cans at a time.

I like my soups thick and almost sludgy; simply add more chicken stock if you prefer yours thinner. If you're feeling decadent or in need of a calcium boost, you can stir in a cup or two of some nice cream after blending. It'll make your soup taste positively dreamy, but it really isn't necessary.

As with most soups, this one tastes even better after lounging around for a day or two in the fridge. As always, I urge you to seek out local and organic ingredients whenever possible. They really do make a difference - in so many ways.

2 to 3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 pounds onions, coarsely chopped
6 large cloves of garlic, chopped
1 large bunch broccoli (about 1-1/2 pounds), stems (peeled if tough) and florets, coarsely chopped
1 can garbanzo beans, preferably organic, drained and rinsed
4 to 5 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
Salt & pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large pot on medium heat, then add the onions. Stir to coat with oil, cover, and cook until onions are soft and starting to brown, stirring frequently, about 10 to 12 minutes.

Make a space in the center of the pot and add the garlic, stirring so it all touches the bottom of the pot. Cook, stirring, two minutes.

Add the broccoli, garbanzo beans, and chicken stock. The soup will look too thick; it is not. It's okay if the broccoli isn't all submerged in the chicken stock. Bring the soup to a boil, then simmer with the lid barely cracked until broccoli is tender, about 25 minutes.

Purée with an immersion blender (I can't say enough good things about - or imagine life without - my KitchenAid Hand Blender; it's probably the best $50 I've ever spent in the kitchen) or very carefully purée in batches in a countertop blender, then return to the pot and cook a few more minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve topped with whatever you like: chopped fresh chives, a drizzle of olive oil, some coarsely grated Pecorino Romano, a dollop of sour cream, a slice or two of sharp cheddar or Monterey Jack, some nice blue cheese crumbles, or absolutely nothing at all. Curl up in a cozy spot and devour, making sure to spend a few moments between slurps feeling grateful for the existence of something as wonderful and warming as a bowl of homemade soup.

How about some bread to go with your soup?
Beyond Easy Beer Bread (my most popular recipe)
Whole Wheat Beer Bread
Onion Rye Beer Bread
Savory Feta Cheese & Scallion Scones
Parisian Four Hour Baguettes
No-Knead Crusty Freeform Bread
Oatmeal Toasting Bread (makes great rolls, too)
Fresh Tomato & Basil Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread
Italian Black Olive Cheeks
Carrot Herb Rolls (And A Bargain Bread Book For Beginners)
Three Onion & Three Cheese Pizza

You might also enjoy my other Less Fuss, More Flavor soup recipes:
Susan's Super Spinach Soup
Garlic Lover's White Bean Soup
Hearty Lentil Soup With Smoked Sausage
Use It Or Lose It Lentil & Escarole Soup
Spur Of The Moment Summer Squash Soup
Simple Summer Harvest Soup
Simple Summer Harvest Soup (The Autumn Version)

Still Hungry?
You'll find links to all my sweet & savory Less Fuss, More Flavor recipes in the sidebar of the Farmgirl Fare homepage under PREVIOUS POSTS: FOOD STUFF WITH RECIPES. Enjoy!

© Copyright 2008, the award-winning blog where Farmgirl Susan shares stories & photos of her crazy country life on 240 remote Missouri acres, and "Come on baby light my fire" isn't just part of a song.


  1. I'm still laughing about burning batteries:) Your soup looks great!

  2. Thansk for the recipe!

    I love my rechargeable batteries. When I got into photography it became a necessity because cameras burn through batteries like mad. I've had some of the rechargables for years.

    Love your blog. I've been reading on and off for a long time.

    - Suzanne, the Farmer's Wife

  3. Great post and delicious looking recipe.

    I laughed because I come from a family of "burn everything" and it makes me shudder. I have coaxed, pleaded, cried and, I think, changed a few minds about that mentality.

    Would love to have a post on your homemade dog and cat food recipe.

  4. YUM! I am definitely going to try this - MIL loves soup and DH loves broccoli (have you tried it with cauliflower 'cause he loves cauliflower even more).
    About the burning - I desperately MISS being able to burn - vile nasty heavy polluting people (sorry - might have been uncalled for venom) have loaded the air in DFW so much that now even us country dwellers are no longer allowed to burn anything but grasses, twigs and tree limbs - no trash at all. Right now - we can't burn anything at all due to fire dangers (I cannot get my head around this completely - the ground is so soaked I can't till my garden - something to do with fuel from last years grasses). I understand Joe's desire to burn it all - DH loves to throw a bit of accelerant on a fire himself. But those days are gone -
    Thanks for the heads up about your camera batteries - I'm having fits keeping my camera going lately - really sucks the juice out of batteries quickly.
    Love this post - as usual - how is Cary? Any news?

  5. I laughed with your "What do I do with this band-aid!" hee hee.
    I've been thinking about trying to reduce our trash load lately. We get trash service, but I miss our old burn pile. When I was growing up we had a burn pile and my dad did the "Everything burns eventually" thing. I don't remember seeing batteries in there though... maybe he learned about that one before my time.

  6. I've been through that frustrating experience of trying to get rid of dangerous waste the proper way, and finding there isn't one. What were all those people learning who were studying "garbology" in school? I love your blog. I already have a fat file of your recipes, and would really like to hear about your homemade pet food.

  7. I laughed out loud at the band aid question, too.
    Soup looks great!

  8. What do you think that Donkey is contemplating while looking into the fire? Is he saying, I wonder if you could burn glass beer bottles in there? Do you think that batteries would explode? LOL

  9. I just love your blog. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Hi farmgirl

    I have been following your food
    blog for a while now as a silent
    reader but have not commented
    until now..all I can say is
    "WOW your recipes look great",
    and I want to cook them all :-)

    I would like to get to know
    you more, with your talent
    for cooking then your going to
    be a great friend to have.

    Feel free to join our cooking
    forum , you are very welcome
    to join us.

    Jeenas food recipe forum

    You have such an amazing food
    blog that I am sure our other
    cooking members would love to know
    more about it.

    Thanks from
    Jeena xx

  11. Yum..this sounds delicious. I'm so proud of the way you generate so little garbage! I do my best with composting and recycling and reusing, but it's a little harder in the city.

  12. I loved this post. Farmgirl, you make me miss the little farm I used to work on where we used to make the most out of everything and reuse and recycle ourselves silly. As an Environmentalist--I loved that you shared how easy it is to decrease your actual trash. Also, I want some avocado skin eating chickens and...a donkey. I am envious...sigh...and tired of living in the city!

  13. I was contemplating the pile of broccoli in my frig when I remembered your soup recipe. I grabbed the soup pot and started chopping. Oh, my. I'm not big on the mushy texture of whole chick peas but do like the flavor so mashed is the perfect use of those little balls of fiber.

    Very, very tasty. And it made me feel righteous.

    You have a remarkable outlook on life and are a pleasure to read. Thank you for sharing.

    Susan, just up the river

  14. YUMMM!
    BTW I added a handful of chopped crimini mushrooms along with the chickpeas and broccoli when I made it.

    Also - I've been making the beer bread with my 4 year old the past few weeks and we all LOVE it!!
    Thanks so much for the daily dose of inspiration!

  15. Mmmm! That soup looks delicious. Can't wait to try it!

  16. Just made the soup & it is YUM! Thanks.

  17. Just made this fantastic soup tonight, to eat by the fireplace, as it looks like it's about to snow!! Also love your easy wheat beer bread recipe & have shared it and Farmgirl Fare with several friends.

    I can relate to some of your experiences, as we also moved from big city life, to a small mountain resort town.

  18. I second angie's request to know more about the homemade dog/cat food.

    The battery burning was quite hilarious.

    I must say, you are quite ingenious with reusing things, i.e. labels cut from plastic to go on styrofoam for seedlings. Wow. Smart, bringing cookies to the trash guy, I never would've thought of that, though I've given ours a soda every now and then ('course I'm a city-slicker who has regular pickups so that doesn't count)

  19. Greetings from Seoul!

    Just wanted to say that I cooked up this here broccoli soup today and it's fabulous! I added a few cups of chopped cabbage to the mix, after the garlic, before the rest.

    Been enjoying your blog for a while, but this was the first foray into actually trying one of your recipes. Looking forward to trying many more! And yes, I spent a moment grateful for this fabulous soup that is keeping me warm and satisfied while I'm home with a cold.

    I too have done the garbage picking and "you can't burn that!", trying to keep the plastic etc out of the burn pile. So thanks for promoting locally grown/organic food and environmentally friendly practices! You're awesome, keep it up.

    -a midwestern transplant on the other side of the world

  20. I made this soup just now for dinner. What a great tasting AND healthy soup! Ugly, but wonderful. The first bowl I garnished with fresh Italian parsley, crushed croutons, and grated Parmesano reggiano. The second bowl (for the sake of research, of course) I used fresh cut chives and sharp white cheddar. It was fabulous. Thanks so much!

  21. Hi!

    I just made your soup and its AWESOME. Thanks for the recipe! I made a few tweaks because I'm into smoking my broccoli. I didn't have any on hand so I used about a teaspoon of liquid smoke. Then I pureed it in a blender. Looks almost like a pea soup. Fantastic!


December 2015 update: Hi! For some reason I can't figure out, Blogger hasn't been letting me leave comments on my own blog (!) for the last several months, so I've been unable to respond to your comments and questions. My apologies for any inconvenience! You're always welcome to email me: farmgirlfare AT gmail DOT com.

Hi! Thanks for visiting Farmgirl Fare and taking the time to write. While I'm not always able to reply to every comment, I receive and enjoy reading them all.

Your feedback is greatly appreciated, and I especially love hearing about your experiences with my recipes. Comments on older posts are always welcome!

Please note that I moderate comments, so if I'm away from the computer it may be a while before yours appears.

I try my best to answer all questions, though sometimes it takes me a few days. And sometimes, I'm sorry to say, they fall through the cracks, and for that I sincerely apologize.

I look forward to hearing from you and hope you enjoy your e-visits to our farm!