Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Burrowing

For reasons that are both too varied and banal to recount, I felt a sudden great need to be domestic. Fill the freezer with nutritious food. Flashing back to my mother's time planning menus for a soup kitchen affiliated with her church- most food value in terms of nutrition, least amount of cash outlaid.

Started with a simple soup-

1 cup dried chick peas, white beans, brown lentils.

Start with dried, but canned would work. Dried seem to taste better, even after the soup has been frozen and thawed- something to do with the bite. Leave the damn things to soak overnight or stick them in a pot and bring to a boil for 10 minutes, then let simmer for an hour or so until they're soft enough to fit in a soup.

Scour the freezer. Find around 2 cups of tomato juice salvaged from cans of plum tomatoes (the red sauce I make is too watery with the juice from a can, so I drain the tomatoes and save the juice, just in case...). Take it out and put it aside.

Chop up some fat carrots. 2 of those big ones found in the frightening mutant veggie section of your local dealer should do fine. 4 or 5 of regular sized, if not.

No celery. As fine a veggie as it is, this soup does not require such things.

Zucchini. 2 good sized, cut thin and diced small.

2 large cooking onions cut however you please.

Garlic? Of course. 5 cloves. Or 6. Or 7. Use a garlic press if you want (and use it unrepentantly, Anthony Bordain be damned), or just dice it.

Parsley. A whole bunch. Yes, a WHOLE bunch. And 3 peppers. Your choice, but 2 red and one orange or green is a damn fine thing. And of course, one bunch of green onion, or 3 or 4 shallots.

Dry sausage- think of a length of dry pepperoini, or 2 lengths of pepperocini, or Calabrese if it's dry, dry Portuguese chorizo would do just fine as well. A good sized hunk, but the trick is to dice, dice, oh, and dice.

So- here's what you do. Take the diced sausage and toss it into a large pot. Enough olive oil to make it look good as well, and warm until the dry sausage looks warm and soft. Then toss in the onion and garlic. Fragrent, no? A little black pepper would'nt hurt anything, or dried pepper flakes. Got some large red pepper pods from asian cooking? Toss 'em in, just remember to fish them OUT at some point.

Once the garlic and onion look soft, add the carrot. Cook for around 5 minutes so that the oil and flavour has worked its way in. Then the zucchini. This is going to look like a crowded pot, even without the beans and water. Not a problem.

Now, add the cooked beans. A little more oil, just enough to make it all seem slippery. Cook for 5 mins or so. Hazard a taste- it should be flavourful. Needs salt? Add some.

Now the water. 10 or 12 cups, but play it by ear. Enough so that it looks as thick as you want it, remember that the veggies are going to give off a fair amount of liquid. And that tomato juice- drop it in.

Looking like soup? Leave it alone. An hour and a half is good. 2hrs is better.

Got all that? Taste. If it needs something, add it. Too thick with veggies? Add more water or tomato juice if there is any handy. Too watery? Not my problem, you should have been more careful. But let it cook a bit longer, steam off some liquid.

At the last minute, add all the chopped parsley, and a bunch of choppped green onion. The result should be a flavourful broth, you'll be aware of the chopped sausage even though there is, compared to the other ingredients, very little meat. The last minute onion and parsley should make it taste fresh. Lots of protien in the beans as well, and minerals from the veggies. All in all, good for you.

Freeze the leftovers. Toss in a pan when hungry. Cheap and good for you. Want wine? Make it red. Or white. Or steal some, because stolen wine is the most savory.

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