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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Hearty Soup/Stew for Winter Blues

Winter....cold, white, is no wonder some species spend all of it in slumber.

There is also a kind of a psychological claustrophobia that sets in, I think, as we spend so much time indoors. Even with my farm chores taking me outside a mandatory 3 times a day, I still feel so restricted....closed in by so many outer layers I have to don to survive the temps....closed in by the shut windows and lack of sunshine. Still, winter does have a beauty all its own and yesterday we had the kind of frost that I just love; it layers on the tree branches and crystallizes outward giving everything a magical feel. That, along with a bit of misty-fogginess to the air and it felt positively knights-in-castles, princesses-in-palaces and fairies-frolicking-in-the-woods around here (well, actually the fairies probably only frolic in spring and summer, but anyway...). I ventured out with the dogs for a walk and to take some pix.

The color palette of my dogs matches the winter world now that our Golden Ret. mix is gone....mostly blacks, grey and white now and that is the other thing I crave in winter: COLOR!

Ahhh, all is not lost....a bit of color as our cat, Lakota (aka M.C. - "Man-Cat" as he is definitely a man's cat and a nod to M.C. Hammer as he has all the grace of a sledge hammer) has decided to accompany us on our walk.

Feeling a bit refreshed from getting some air and time with nature, I want something really hearty and substantial to eat. I was thinking of all the winters that I used to make up beef stew and have some buttermilk or baking powder biscuits with it. I realized it is the STARCH that I really want...not the beef.

(For a fascinating discussion on starch, see John McDougall's lecture: The Starch Solution).

So, I made up a soup/stew initially trying for a simple potato soup. I sauteed some onions and garlic in some veggie broth, then started adding vegetables. Chopped carrots, celery, sweet potatoes and golden potatoes (cubed) all went in and I continued adding broth. I lightly seasoned with parsley, salt and pepper and a dash of Bragg's aminos. Later in the cooking process (probably about a half hour) I sauteed some mushrooms separately and tossed them in, liquid and all. By now, it was smelling about the way I had hoped, just simple flavors and lots of texture.

I made a batch of Susan Voisin's biscuits, finding a thin cast iron pan of my grandmother's that has circles in it and is perfect for this use. Instead of soy milk, I used almond milk and think I will try oat milk the next time and also reducing the liquid and adding 1/4 c of applesauce. They did come out well though and were the perfect compliment to my soup/stew.

Just prior to serving, I took my immersion blender and spot-blended for a minute or so right in the pot. I wanted to mash up some of the potatoes so that the soup would be very thick and stew-like. It definitely did the trick.

I had some collards that were threatening to wilt, so I had sliced those up and sauteed lightly to serve separately, but I ended up putting them on top of the soup and they were really good that way.

I guess it is one of the gifts of cold weather and dreary winter days, to be able to enjoy a simple stew and some basic biscuits.....this certainly wouldn't have been nearly as tasty mid-August!

Sue, keeping-it-simple, in Ohio

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