Originally Published in the Greenwood Daily Journal Saturday September 24, 2011
The winds, they are a changing. Gone are the sweltering hot days at the pool, mosquito spray, sunscreen and flip flops. Bring on the warm cider, pumpkin patches and beautiful leaves. Don’t get me wrong, I wear flip flops until it is just too cold to wear them, but I do appreciate a comfortable sweater when the days get chilly.
I think for some people their tastes in food change with the seasons. Some people will only eat something with pumpkin in it during the fall and winter. Salads are relegated to only the warm weather months and iced tea? Try asking someone of they want it during December and they look at you like you are crazy!
I am not one of those people. I like to cook out in the winter, have pumpkin pie in the summer and every months in between. I like what I like and I do not often let the calendar or temperatures dictate my menu. I am all about using fresh ingredients and there are just some things that are just better in the summer. Corn, strawberries and tomatoes to name a few.
A few weeks ago I posted a soup on my website and I have had more comments about it’s timing than any other recipe that I have ever posted. See, that particular day in Indiana it was 96 degrees and a balmy 70% humidity. I called it ‘Humidity You Can With A Knife’. In is I talked about my love of soups, year-round. We have soups often before dinner, especially if I have leftovers I want to use up. A brothy vegetable or grain packed soup really curtails over-eating for me so I like to start with it.
I even rate restaurants by their soup selection. My husband will suggest a place and I immediately look up their menu online to see what they have cooking. They could have a great menu but if their soup tastes like the inside of a metal can, then forget about it!
I have had a few canned soups before that I liked well enough that I keep on hand for quick meals and lunches. But when I can, I make a large batch of whatever our current favorite is to freeze in small containers. That way I can grab a few here or there for quick lunches.
Soups are one of the more versatile dishes you can make. From a first course, to a hearty stand alone dish you can really be creative. I like to use a slow cooker , when I can, by preparing the ingredients ahead of time. That way I can just throw in what I need in the morning and come home to a house fiiled with the scents of a home cooked meal. A little rice, leftover zucchini or other veggies, maybe some beans or bits of sliced meat and a broth, anything is fair game. Soups are a surefire way to make comfort, economy and warmth present in even the most humble of homes.
Most of the soups I make are pretty easy on the pocketbook. A great one can often be put together fairly easily and last for a few days. One such favorite of mine is 3 Bean and Sausage soup. I make this, often, when I am running or have a race coming up. It has just enough carbs to get me through without weighing me down. It seems to taste better the day after so make a pot on a Sunday for a quick weeknight meal!
3 Bean Soup with Sausage or Ground Turkey
1 pound of ground turkey or sausage (optional)
1 can each of: cannellini beans, light read kidney beans and dark kidney beans, rinsed.
1 can of petite diced tomatoes from Red Gold (An Indiana Company!)
1 large tomato, diced
2 cans of chicken broth (or use a vegetable broth) I like to use a hearty stock when I can
1 small onion, diced
2 large carrots, shredded
2 stalks of celery, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 red pepper, chopped
2 C of ditallini pasta, or another small pasta
2 C of broken spaghetti
*3 TB of quick cooking barley, as a thickener, optional
2 TB of tomato paste from Red Gold
fresh herbs: I used chopped oregano and basil at the end
freshly grated Parmesan for garnish
Brown the meat, if you use it. Add the onion, peppers, carrots, celery, garlic, drizzle of olive oil and tomato paste. Saute until vegetables are tender. Add the broths and beans. Add the pasta (and barley) and if you need it add a little water. Simmer until the pasta is tender.
I served this with a crusty bread and a dusting of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. This was an easy and very filling dinner!
|For another twist: toss in a Parmesan rind in the last 30 minutes of cooking for great flavor!|