Prepare yourself. This is going to be a long post people.
A couple of days ago, someone sent me an email about the little quirks of Southerner's that had me cracking up. It was something you truly have to be a southerner to appreciate as was proven when I read it out loud to my daughter who would chuckle quietly in an effort to be polite but then go, "I don't get it." She didn't have the privilege of growing up in the south of the US as I did so she's forgiven. The email has put me in a very nostalgic frame of mind and with today's schizophrenic weather which includes much cooler temperatures I began craving a soup.
Whenever I think of making soups to keep warm and that stick to your ribs, I think of my Nourishing Traditions cookbook by Sally Fallon. I thumbed through to the soups section and found a recipe that sounded really close to a dish my grandmother used to make, Sauerkraut and bean soup on page 210. Here's their original recipe:
3 cups basic small white beans (page 496), cooked
1 quart beef or chicken stock (pages 122 or 124)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and mashed
pinch red pepper flakes
1 pound spicy chicken or beef sausage, slice into rounds
sea salt or fish sauce (page 157) and pepper
2 cups sauerkraut (page 92)
Bring stock to a boil and skim. Add garlic, red pepper and sausage and simmer for 15 minutes or until sausage is cooked. Season to taste. Let cool until the soup can be touched without burning and stir in sauerkraut. Ladle into heated bowls and serve.
All those lovely page numbers they include in their recipe, link back to these really time consumptive processes to produce what it is they're talking about. It's really great when you have the time, energy, and ability to do all that but that's not always the case for me.
I'm too lazy to run out to the store every time I'm taken by the whim to make something I didn't plan on making, when I did my grocery store run for the week. Therefore, I'm a big believer in making do with what I have on hand. That lead me to modifying their recipe.
Earlier this week, when I did the grocery shopping for the week, I'd noticed just how much more expensive lunchmeat is than just buying the same meat, cooking, and slicing it up myself. When I got home from the store, I threw all the meats into Big Bertha and roasted them up for the week.
I don't know who was thinking what when they outfitted this home with an 8 burner cooker and a double oven. I'm just grateful they did. It makes my life a lot simpler sometimes.
Fortunately, because I've read Nourishing Traditions thoroughly, I had the forethought to reserve the liquids and yes, brace yourselves, the fats from the roasted meats. Often, people consider "fat" a dirty word but when we're talking cooking I'm not one of them.
I didn't have sauerkraut laying around but I did have 3 heads of cabbages. I don't think it really matters all that much which types you have on hand as long as they're fresh and ones you like. I sliced up 2 sweetheart cabbages and 1 curly leafed, into thin strips and started cooking them down. I remembered the reserved stock and fat from the chicken I'd cooked earlier in the week and just added all of it. If you don't have any of that on hand, bouillon and some butter will work just as well.
Once there was room in the creuset, I added the two boxes of canellini beans which seems to be about 2 cups. I stirred them down into the cabbage with 3 small chopped cloves of garlic and a small green chili pepper.
Once the cabbage cooked down enough that it was soft but not falling apart, I threw in about a cup of diced ham, and a cup of sliced chorizo mixed with some shrimp from a left over dinner. Once all of that was heated through, I served it up with some crusty bread.
I can't even begin to tell you how tasty this rough and rustic soup was. It really hit the spot and I think my grandmother would be proud. And all though it might not be necessary, I thought I would share some photo's of just how schizophrenic the weather is here today.
From my backdoor
Just outside my backdoor facing the opposite direction.
And in the time that it's taken me to write this post, every cloud is gone and the sky is an amazing blue. At least I can never be bored with the weather today! What's the weather like where you are and what food is it inspiring in you today?