Ornamental Plaster Sculpting, Mural Painting, Faux Finishing, and Imaginative Interior Design.

Ornamental Plaster Sculpting, Mural Painting, Faux Finishing, and Imaginative Interior Design.
CLICK ON THE RABBIT ( yes, those are cabinets) TO SEE MY PORTFOLIO, AND LEARN MORE ABOUT MY SERVICES...theartofthehome.com

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

There's More to Belle's Kitchen Than Pretty Paint

I've been meaning to expand the blogging to other days, and other home arts besides decorating, so the easy place to start is with good food, and share the recipe for today's soup.  My only difficulty is that there isn't a recipe.  I cook soup at least once a week, from whatever is in the fridge, and because I had the good fortune to be raised by a chef, among a whole family of creative cooks, I don't use a recipe.  But not to worry, because what I want to inspire you to do is experiment, and trust me, soup is way easier to make than you think.

Start with broth.  I always have fresh chicken stock, as McKinley the Malamute (see photo at the top of the page thartofthehome.com/about-me.html) eats homemade dog food, for which I have to boil chicken.  He gets the meat and fat, I get the broth.  On the slight chance that you don't boil chicken a couple times a week, you might want to buy canned stock, or a condensed one.  Some are healthier than others, so read the labels, and choose a low sodium one, so you can control the saltiness.

For this pot, I used about

5 cups of stock
1/2 of a very large onion, coarsely chopped
2 dark green ribs of celery, coarsely chopped
4 small Yukon Gold potatoes, 1/2" dice
6 or 8 mushrooms, quartered
1 can of cannellini beans (white kidney beans)
1 can of butter beans
1 or 2 fully cooked brats, chopped
about a tablespoon of dried marjoram
a heaping teaspoon of chopped garlic
about a teaspoon of cumin
a rounded teaspoon of prepared mustard
salt to taste

There are two ways to cook this:  Be chefly and saute your onions until carmelized, brown the sausage, use only fresh garlic, and spend about an hour at it, after which you can wash the extra skillet and utensils.


Use the easy basic soup method:  Start the stock warming to a boil, and begin chopping and adding the veggies in order of firmness.  I started with the onion, then the celery, then the potatoes, though I would have done those first if they were chopped larger. Toss in the sausage, the beans, the mushrooms, then the seasonings, let it boil about 10 minutes, then check for salt, and add as needed.  You can let it simmer a bit longer, if you like your veggies softer. 

This works for any soup made with pre-cooked beans, and either fully cooked, or diced raw meat.  If using raw meat, boil until pink is gone before tasting, to be safe.  Is this as good as the chefly method?  You lose a little depth of flavor by not carmelizing things in a skillet first, but this is soup for people who have other things to do besides cook, and yet want something better than canned soup.  And it's waaaay better than canned!

It takes about 15 minutes to get it all in the pot, and it's ready for the table in about another 15.  Longer if you use raw meat, or want to let it simmer longer.  If you have a stainless steel pot, you can store it in the pot in the refrigerator, and dip out bowls to reheat for lunch or dinner for the next few days.  Very few dishes, pretty lean if you put in enough sausage for flavor, but not a full serving in every bowl, and very comforting on cold days like this one.

You can easily alter the recipe.  With chicken stock, try light meats like chicken or pork, white beans, and the seasonings mentioned.  With beef stock, use beef, and/or red beans, and use Worcestershire sauce in place of the mustard.  (Mustard and Worcestershire both work to strengthen the flavors, but don't really taste like themselves when used in such small quantities.)  You can season toward any nationality, and alter the veggies according to what's about to expire in the crisper drawer.  Be brave.  It's soup, and just about anything goes.  I can almost guarantee you that even the worst experiment will still taste better than Campbell's!

No comments: