Conventual Franciscan Father Kurt Kreml, pastor of St. Peter Parish, Point Pleasant Beach, where a three-day celebration of the saint’s life will unfold Oct. 2-4, not only answered the question but offered inspiration for a recipe.
“In the accounts we have of him, Francis and the friars always ate simply. He and the friars would go through different neighborhoods begging for food. Everyone was expected to come back with one thing for the soup pot,” said Father Kreml.
He described the result as “poor man’s soup” made with whatever towns folk were able to share with the friars at the time.
Most definitely, it would be a seasonal brew consisting of food fresh from garden and field. Meat was not likely to be one of the ingredients, said Father Kreml. “The friars did extended fasts but an interesting thing is that on Christmas, he would always exhort them to eat well…Francis would say to the friars that in celebrating the incarnation, they could ‘smear the walls with meat on Christmas Day!”
Taking Father Kreml’s words about “poor man’s soup” to heart, this brew” reflects the early fall season, spiked with Jersey Fresh ingredients fresh from local farmers markets. Several varieties of squash and some purple eggplant turned out to be good compliments to the rest of the ingredients which came right out of the fridge and pantry.
POOR MAN’S SOUP
-two, 14 ounce cans cannellini beans, well drained
-2 stalks celery, diced
-2 carrots, peeled and dices
-1 medium onion peeled and diced
-2 garlic gloves peeled and minced
-3 tbls extra virgin olive oil
-1 large can chopped tomatoes
-1 can chicken broth
-one cup each butternut, yellow and green squash cut into two inch chunks
Directions — In a stock pot, heat the olive oil, add the onions, celery, carrot until soft and translucent. Then add the garlic, and cook for two more minutes. Add the beans, squash and tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste and just enough broth to make a thick soup. Boil for two minues and then decrease the heat to simmer and cook until the vegetables are tender but not mushy — about 20 minutes.
Serve hot with a good sprinkling of grated cheese.