From Bucket to Bowl

Our bucket gardens have attracted a lot of attention to the Piatt County Extension office. There were some doubters, even in our own office, who said we would never harvest anything fit to eat from them. Today we proved them wrong and served a delicious lunch of cream of broccoli soup and kale chips using two of the crops we grew in buckets. Everyone enjoyed our creations and I think everyone at the table had more than one helping! Here are the recipes if you would like to try them with your family:

Cream of Broccoli Soup


4 Tablespoons Butter

2 Tablespoons Olive oil

1 Stalk of celery, rough chop

1 Onion, rough chop

1 Clove garlic, chopped

3 Cups Chicken broth

8 Cups Broccoli, rough chop (stems and florets)*

3 Tablespoons All-purpose flour

1 Cup Milk

1 Cup Evaporated milk

2 ounces cream cheese

Ground black pepper to taste

Bacon and Parmesan cheese for garnish


  1. Melt 2 tablespoons butter with olive oil in large pot. Saute garlic, onion and celery until tender. Add broccoli and broth. Cover and simmer until broccoli is tender.
  2. Use immersion (stick) blender to puree soup directly in the pot. An alternate, but more dangerous method is to ladle hot soup into a blender and puree the soup in batches, then transferring to a clean pot. Do not fill the blender more than halfway and start the blender slowly to avoid splashing hot soup everywhere. We much prefer the using the stick blender as you make a lot less mess in the kitchen and there is less chance of burning yourself with hot soup.
  3. In a saucepan, melt remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and add flour. Whisk in the milk and evaporated milk, stir until thick and bubbly.
  4. Add milk mixture to soup, also add cream cheese. Stir until cheese melts. Alternatively, blend with the stick blender again. Season with pepper and top individual bowls with crumbled bacon and grated Parmesan cheese.

* The broccoli we typically eat is actually a cluster of immature flowers. Broccoli should be harvested while these flowers, or florets, form a tight cluster. Unfortunately, broccoli can go from a tight cluster to blooming yellow flowers in a matter of hours, which happened to some of our broccoli following some very warm weather. That said, we still used the broccoli, as there were only a few blooming flowers on the heads. The soup was still wonderful. We left the broccoli "stumps" to continue growing as they will produce smaller side shoots of florets throughout the summer.

Kale Chips


Kale leaves

Olive Oil

Salt or other seasonings


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Harvest kale leaves from the bottom of the plant. Kale will continue to grow if you leave the growing point (newest leaves).
  3. Rinse with water. Vigorously shake (or use a salad spinner) to remove excess water.
  4. Tear kale leaves into bite sized pieces. Tear around the dominant mid-vein (this should be removed when cooking with kale, it is very bitter)
  5. Put kale leaves into a Ziploc bag, add enough olive oil to lightly coat the leaves.
  6. Add seasoning(s) of your choice to the bag of leaves. Some suggestions include: salt, garlic, black pepper, cayenne pepper
  7. Shake the bag to distribute seasonings.
  8. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and put a single layer of kale leaves on the sheet.
  9. Bake for 9-10 minutes until leaves are crispy around the edges but not burnt.
  10. Enjoy!