15 September 2010

15 September - Ember Day (traditional); Harvest Vegetable Soup

Weather:  The weather today foretells the weather for October.  Beautiful weather! Bright, sunny, blue skies, warm enough to be comfortable.

The Ember Days, of which these three (today, Friday, and Saturday) are the last of the church year, are three days set aside in every quarter of the year in which we fast and thank God for his blessings, and ask for the grace to use them well and in the service of others.  There are different sins assigned to each set of Ember days, from which we pray to be delivered; otherwise, prayers are usually in thanksgiving and for priests and the holy souls in Purgatory.  Pride and covetousness are two sins for which we pray especial grace to overcome at this time, and our thanksgiving is for the harvest.

The other Ember days take place in December - the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday after Saint Lucy's Day (December 13); in the Spring, same days following the first Sunday in Lent; in the Summer, the same days after Pentecost.

The traditional calendar places the Fall Ember days on the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday following Holy Cross Day (September 14); the revised Catholic calendar now puts them in the third full week of September, which means that according to the new use, the days will fall next week on the 22nd, 24th, and 25th.  For the purposes of my Book of Days, I tend to follow tradition and the almanac.

As these are fasting and partial abstinence days (i.e. meat can be served at one meal), almost any Lenten recipe will do.  A soup of harvest vegetables such as the one below would be apropos.


An onion, a couple of potatoes, a couple of leeks (white and light green sections only, and wash them well), a couple of turnips, 3 carrots, 3 parsnips, a rib or two of celery.  Those are the amounts I usually use - unless I have 4 carrots left in the bag, and then it is 4 carrots.  Sometimes I add a cup of (chopped) butternut squash.  Which vegetables I use and how much of each depends mostly on what is available. You can be equally diverse.

Cut all of the vegetables in a small dice.  The original recipe called for a 1/4 inch dice, but I'm not that fussy.  Just chop them not too large.

Start with 6 cups of water, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and 2 teaspoons of salt in a large saucepan or kettle. Bring it to a boil, then add your vegetables, 2 mashed garlic cloves ( I use crushed garlic), and 1/2 teaspoon of thyme (optional), and simmer until the vegetables are very tender (about half an hour or so).  Sprinkle with fresh ground pepper (you can be a liberal as taste allows).  Ladle into bowls, drizzle a little olive oil (half a teaspoon is usually sufficient), and serve.