October 19, 2010

Soup's On

So it's cold out. Not freezing cold, just yay! time to wear a hat and scarf in the morning cold. Remember those slippers that took me forever to knit? Well I'm loving them now. Worth. Every. Stitch. And cold weather means soup in our house. Lots of soup. I would eat soup every day but the wild things probably wouldn't go for that, so for now, I'm trying to limit it to once a week. Ok, maybe twice a week.

I love all soups but recently I've really been into beans. I think I had a bean-phobia before because I really haven't cooked with them much beyond warming up black beans for burritos. But between my "eat less meat" thing and my "make healthier food" thing and my "crap, let's lower the grocery budget again" thing, well, beans are making a stand in our house. And boys howdy, I didn't know what I was missing. Beans are good! No, really! Beans are GREAT! WHo knew (ok, everyone else knew)

I've been filling up our weekly menu with bean meals. White bean and chicken enchiladas, homemade falafel, beans and rice and our favorite - white bean and sausage soup. Or if you want to get fancy, cassoulet.

Now I am neither french nor any kind of trained chef so when I say this is cassoulet, I'm using the term loosely. I read a bunch of recipes, mixed them all up and then cranked out this soup with what we basically had in the pantry and freezer. But it was a winner for us. Will even went back for seconds. Usually he patiently eats his bowl and then fixes himself a sandwich, soup just isn't enough food for him I guess.

But this is more stew-y than soupy. It's yummy and filling and easy, although it does need a little time to simmer away. I've been making it at lunch for the evenings dinner but I've also noticed that it's even better the next day so I think it would make a great night before kind of meal.

1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 T soup mix *
3/4 cup sliced carrots
3/4 carton chicken stock
2 cans of navy beans
4 chicken apple sausages, sliced 1/2 in thick
salt to taste

Sweat the onions in a teeny bit of oil until they are golden and slightly translucent, add the soup mix and sweat a few minutes more. Dump in the rest of the ingredients, give it a stir, pop the lid on and let it simmer on low for three hours. Add a little more stock before serving if you want a thinner soup. Serve with sour cream and minced parsley.

*Soup Mix - this is a homemade bouillon of sorts that I made in August which I LOVE and will make a ton more of next summer. Actually, I probably make more later in the winter because it's fantastic. The basic recipe came form my favorite canning book but I adjusted the ingredients to utilize what was coming out of the garden at the time.

2 cups carrots, finely chopped
2 cups parsnips, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves
1 cup of parsley

Whiz this in a food processor (or crappy mini chopper if that's what you've got, don't feel bad, me too) until you have teeny tiny pieces. Weigh the veggies and add 1/4 the weight in kosher salt. Stir well and spoon into jars. The salt preserves the veggies. You only need a tablespoon or two to start off pretty much any soup, stew, casserole, really anything you might add bouillon too.

What's you're favorite cold weather meal? Any good bean recipes?