Soups!

January 31st, 2018 7 Comments

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Something old, something new, something gifted and something almost-but-not-quite-blue. There’s been a lot of great reading here in the North Woods.  Life is good. 

 

 

Soups!

It’s the time of year when a Simmering Pot can be one of your best friends—providing warmth and good smells while slowly transforming ingredients into tasty sustenance, they are our kitchen’s ‘external stomach’ partially digesting our food so we spend less calories on digesting and more calories on having bigger brains.  Healthy as raw food may be, it requires a tremendous amount of calories to digest.  A running theory these days is that as we began using heat and fermentation to start the process of breaking down foods, not coincidentally our guts began to shrink and our calorie-hungry brains began to grow…for better or for worse.  There is evidence that Homo erectus began to tame fire for cooking at least 1.6 million years ago. Read a little more about it here.

 

Michael Pollen’s book “Cooked” explores the four classical elements of cooking that have evolved us over the millennia—-Fire (grilling), Water (cooking pots), Air (baking) and Earth (fermentation).  In the Water chapter he shares a skeleton “Ur-recipe” template for anything cooked in the Cooking Pot.  This is my kind of recipe:

  1. Dice some aromatic plants
  2. Sauté them in some fat
  3. Brown piece(s) of meat (or other featured ingredient)
  4. Put everything in a pot
  5. Add some water (or stock, wine, milk, etc)
  6. Simmer, below the boil, for a long time

 

Soup pot cooling in the snow.

I love his description of the Cooking Pot:

“Indoor cooking, (or ‘endocuisine’ as Claude Lévi-Strauss would call it), took place within the confines of the closed pot and, more often than not, within the private space of the household.  The interior of the cook pot itself, concave and shielding its contents from view, symbolized the home and the family, its lid a kind of roof over a domestic space presided over by women…..boiling was associated with the strengthening of family ties.”

 

 

While we’re talking about soups and building flavors let me put in a plug for Celery.  I often tell people “It doesn’t matter if you like celery, you should still cook with it.  Especially in soups.”  Celery is one of my Helpers, part of the Holy Trinity of Mirepoix (onion, celery, carrots) or the Holy Trinity of Cajun cooking  (onion, celery, green peppers), and contains volatile compounds called phthalides which “enhance the perception of both sweetness and umami”.  So quit whining about not liking celery and don’t forget to add it to your soups!

 

 

Enjoy this season of ‘endocuisine’.

 

 

SOUPS!

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Island Beef Stew

 

Kale Sausage Soup

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Cure-All Chicken Soup

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Fassolada

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Adobo Black Bean Soup

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Minnesota Wild Rice Soup

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Calcutta Curry Soup

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Hmong Market Soup

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Caribbean Red Pea Soup

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Harira

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Tuscan Tomato Soup

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White Bean Soup with Pesto

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Sweet Soup (Søtsuppe)

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This morning as we sipped our coffee in our remote ABR cabin we watched an entertaining show of 2nd graders learning how to tuck down the hill just outside our cabin window.  They learn so dang fast.

 

 

“When you cease to fear your solitude, a new creativity awakens in you. Your forgotten or neglected wealth begins to reveal itself. You come home to yourself and learn to rest within. Thoughts are our inner senses. Infused with silence and solitude, they bring out the mystery of inner landscape.”

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– John O’Donohue, ‘Anam Cara’

 

 

7 Comments

  1. Benji says:

    What a great post! SOUP! And the ABR looks fantastic – cheers!

  2. Norma says:

    Hi, So good to see your snow. I hear the temperatures which seem brutal in the TC but had noidea if there was snow or not. Soups are a great entry. Question you have time: what do you recommend to use for celery soup? No cookbooks here and no easy use of the web! Thanks.

  3. Nancy Randleman says:

    Thanks Ruth! The best time of year for this post! Yum!

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