Als ich wisse das Morgen der Erde enden wuerde, immernoch wurd ich mein Apfelbaum pflanzen.

Even if I knew the world would perish tomorrow, I would still plant my apple tree. - Martin Luther

"Factory work's easier on the back, and I don't mind it, understand, but a man becomes what he does. Got to watch that. That's why I keep at farmin' although the crops haven't ever throve. It's the doin' that's important." Madison Wheeler in Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Soup, Don't it Smell Like the Answer?

“There ain't no point in making soup unless others eat it. Soup needs another mouth to taste it, another heart to be warmed by it.”
Kate DiCamillo, The Tale of Despereaux

I'm a teacher  - so I pay a lot of attention to the weather in the winter.  Whenever I hear that we might have the next day off due to snow or freezing rain, I fall asleep pondering which soup I'll make the next day if we're off.  There's something so satisfying and comforting about a pot of soup simmering on the stove, or in the crock pot.  It's like a little bit of love in your bowl.  Pair it with some fresh bread or muffins and I'm in comfort food heaven.

We eat a lot of soup in the winter.  Typically, soup is on the menu three or four times per week.  Plus, the adults in the house frequently take the left over soup for lunch.  Soup is nutritious, simple to make (especially when you use your crock pot), and it fills you up without spending very much money.  It's also good at using up the odds and ends of vegetables in your root cellar and freezer. 

When I make soup I double or triple the recipe so that I have several quarts to put in the freezer.  Then, when I want soup for dinner I pull out two quarts the night before, thaw out a loaf of zucchini bread  or some muffins, grab a jar of applesauce from the pantry and dinner is done.

One other trick I use is to freeze vegetables in the right amounts in gallon freezer bags during the summer.  Then I have even less prep work to attend to on a busy morning before I head out the door.

Here are some of our favorites:

Borscht (Moosewood Cookbook)


Red Lentil (no idea the original source - I've changed it quite a bit)

Put 2 1/2 quarts of vegetable or chicken broth in a big pot. (I use vegetable bullion cubes).
Then add:
2 T. dried onion flakes
1 t. garlic powder
2 T. dried celery flakes
1 lb. red lentils (don't substitute regular lentils)
1 t. cumin
1/4 c. brown rice
1 c. chopped carrot (optional - this is how my mom makes it).

Simmer for 45 minutes until you have a nice thick puree.  You may need to add more broth.  Then add salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste.

You could certainly use real onions, garlic and celery here. If you decide to do that saute the vegetables first before adding the broth and lentils.   I tend to make this soup in late January and February when I've worked my way through all of the fresh onions and garlic.  I think the dried versions work really well here, and they make this soup go together very fast and fat free. This is probably the soup I enjoy most.  I could really eat it every day.  I especially like to take it to school for lunch - it really fills you up.  It's a bit like taking a love note to yourself along to work.  It cooks down into a lovely creamy soup.  The red lentils fall apart - it has a similar texture to dal, but thinner.

Garden Chowder

Hearty Broccoli Cheese

We make this one a lot in the fall.  It's a great way to use up the less than pretty bits of broccoli, carrot and potato that come out of my garden in October.  I think , if I let him, Soccer Boy would eat all of it himself.

Barley Bean (No idea of the source - adapted quite a bit)

This is another of those straight from the pantry type soups.  I make it in mid winter when I'm running short on fresh vegetables.  It's great for weekend lunches, and for after work.  It takes an hour or so to cook (if you're starting with soaked beans), but you don't need to do anything with it once you put everything into the pot (except stir every now and then).  This soup also works well in the crock pot - add a little extra broth if you do as the barley tends to absorb liquid.  I love, love, love this soup.  It satisfys all of those savory cravings and is guilt free.
Put the following ingredients in a large pot and simmer for an hour until the beans are tender.
3/4 c. kidney beans (soaked)
1/2 c. barley
1 T. dried onion
1/2 c. dried mushrooms
1 T. dried rosemary
2 quarts vegetable broth
bean soaking liquid
1 t. salt
1 t. pepper
1 c. chopped carrot (optional)
I'm always looking for new ones.  Anyone have one to share?  I have a few on my list yet for this winter.  Hope spring doesn't come too soon and we have a few more snow days yet to come.

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