Here is my favorite winter soup, a thick, rich and hearty Vegetarian Stew.
This is a great comfort meal when the weather is bad, or when the news is sad.
When stress is high. When colds and viruses abound.
Nerves can be soothed with the right meal.
Taste buds delighted. Restful sleep at night.
The ingredients for this soup can be somewhat interchangeable, depending on what you have on hand....
In a large pot combine:
8 cups water
4 cups or so washed, scrubbed, but not peeled, cubed, potatoes.
I like Yukon Gold for their buttery taste, but Russet, or any type you like, is fine.
Potatoes and other root vegetables are excellent for grounding one's nerves when stressed or nervous -- they are rich in potassium, high in fiber.
They also help thicken the stew.
4-6 cups cooked beans of your choosing.
Below are anasazi beans, they have a mild, smooth taste. The spots disappear with cooking. Beans have many nutritional benefits, and are a strong non-meat protein source.
To cook these dried beans separately, I soak 2-3 cups dried beans (makes 4-6 cups cooked) overnight in a bowl, 3:1 water to beans, then bring to boil in a pot with the same water, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 40 minutes or soft to taste.
For this soup, just soak the dried beans overnight or start soak on the way out in the morning (8 hours at least). Drain and add to soup -- these anasazi beans, and other mild beans, such as a white/cannellini bean, will cook in the 40 minute soup cooking time.
Note: Some types of dried beans may require a longer cook time and should be cooked separately only, or use canned (such as kidney beans).
Canned beans are fine to use, and easy. I recommend most types for this recipe, although black beans will overpower the other tastes.
Next is uncooked brown rice, a healthier choice than the pasta below -- 1 cup-- added with other ingredients
1 cup uncooked pasta ( penne or bowtie ), added after the first 20 minutes of cooking. The pasta choices look great, have a nice texture complement.
Then, add 4-8 cups (varies by preference) chopped chard
(this is red chard)
Kale or spinach works well also. Leafy green vegetables are high in B vitamins, and kale is a good protein source
Add 2 cups tomato product of some kind.
I use what I have, from canned instant tomato soup to salsa, tomato sauce...I don't recommend ketchup though. Yuk.
Tomatoes are a huge protective-against-disease nutritional source for our bodies, and one of the few foods that has a higher nutritional potency cooked.
For fresh tomato (although these are hard to find in winter with any taste to them) chop/cube 3-4 cups and add tomato paste if possible.
Finally, the spices:
cayenne, to taste
(these are from my first cayenne harvest this year)
Cayenne supports the respiratory system and is high in Vitamin C, especially helpful in winter.
garlic, fresh or powdered
I love garlic and will chop 8-12+ cloves for a soup this size, or use a tablespoon or more powdered.
Garlic is an excellent blood cleanser and immune system supporter, just to begin garlic's many nutritional and health benefits.
Onion is also welcome, if you like. It has some similar health benefits to garlic, and I have friends who refuse to cook without it.
For garlic or onion, saute in light amount of olive oil over medium heat (below smoking point -- this ruins any health benefits the oil has) for a few minutes to bring out the best flavor.
Next -- or after cooking, alternatively,
add Bragg's Liquid Aminos, about 1 tablespoon.
If this doesn't ring a bell...
soy sauce or tamari sauce, same amount as Bragg's, or even good old...I mean, wicked... salt will work -- use 1 1/2 teaspoons for salt. Or to taste.
~This soup also tastes delicious with curry spices instead, if you prefer. Or lentils instead of beans. That is the beauty of this recipe, it's very adaptable~
Bring soup ingredients to a boil (remember if using pasta to add after 20 min.), reduce heat, and simmer until potatoes (and beans, if cooking them in stew) are soft, usually 40 minutes.
Let stand for 10 minutes after soup is done, while the garlic bread or pita triangles...or cheese toast! ... heats. This lets the flavors settle and coalesce.
Optional toppings -- preferably not all together : )
Light candles on the table,
call the family in, friends in, share with a neighbor...
(a representative image, not specifically of this yummy soup)
~ Nutritional comments are in no way comprehensive ~
Photo credits, courtesy of:
1. exquisite-design.com ( I had to add this bed : ))
4. is my photo
6. my photo
8. mine also
JANUARY 10, 2011 3:12AM