Sunday, December 19, 2010

Petty annoyances and soothing soup.

I am not feeling well (a rather bad attach of the rheumatics as used to say—pain and fever) I get short tempered when I don't feel well. I know it. So this is a bit of rant.

Well you are going to have to use your imagination. (10 paragraphs of pettiness deleted!)

OK—meanwhile Theresa asked:Recipes for the soup, please.

I don't really have one. I just sort of wing my soups.(I found a few recipes(on line) for the chicken/sweet potato/coconut soup, and just sort of winged that too, after reading the ones I found)

Russian Borscht.
Some meat (about ¼ to ½ lb of pork (I used ends of a pork loin) cut into small cubes (chill in freezer for about 30 minutes to make the cutting up easier—you could add more, but less is better!)
Broth (I used low fat/low sodium beef broth (cause it was what I had,) and water.
The veggies.
3 parts beets (I use smallish ones, quartered)
1 part onion chopped (not too finely)
1 part carrot (chunked into mouth size pieces)
1 part potato (large dice—cause that is the easiest way to cut up a potato!)
1 part parsnips (cause I really like parsnips in soup!--cut in chunks like the carrots)
The parts are about a volume measurement (so 3 cups of beets, and 1 cup or so of the other vegetables)
Some garlic (I use the pre- chopped kind, about 1 teaspoon) but not too much-- 1 clove maybe?
Some sour salt (citric acid) because other wise it's too sweet, but lemon or cider vinegar would work—this is a taste thing. I like beets and carrots and parsnips, but all of them are very sweet—and I don't much like a too sweet soup! About ½ teaspoon of sour salt, or about ½ to 1 cup of vinegar) Start with less, add more to taste—or don't! But a little (a ¼ cup maybe) does improve the flavor, even if you like your borscht sweet.

Salt/pepper/ bay leaf.. and other seasonings.. I like a sprig of rosemary, (but didn't have any sprigs, and I don't like the fine leaves in soup!) You could cheat and add a capful of Mrs. Dash seasons, too, if you wanted more flavor-- but I think the vegetables add enough on their own)

Brown meat (in a small amount of oil) add garlic, onions and brown them too. Then add all the other veggies. I tend to add them as I go (chop one and add to pot, give the pot a stir.)
I use a 6 qt dutch oven/stock pot to cook in.

After all the vegetables have been added, add broth and water, (or sometimes all water) to cover, and about half of desired seasoning (salt/pepper/sour salt) add all the herbs (bay leaf/rosemary)

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, and cook about 40 minutes over low heat till the vegetables are all cooked. Taste and correct the seasonings.

The beets turn the broth a deep rosy red, (the other vegetables tend to become pinkish, too!)

I suppose you could make with no meat, and no meat broth—but I like the flavor it adds.

For sure, you could sub a ham bone and chunks of ham (but I don't much like ham—so I never do!) But add less salt, (and less sour salt or vinegar) and use water for broth.

For me, the ratios (enough beets to they predominate!) is more important than the actual measurements
You could (again to taste) sub turnips or kohlrabi for the parsnips--or just skip altogether.

You get the quantity you make—a small pot (6 small beets, 2 small onions, 2 small carrots, 1 large potato) or more of everything (a dozen small beets, or 6 huge ones, cut into 8 or more pieces) and a large pot of soup!

A small pot is about 2 quarts, or 4 MEAL size servings of soup.(1 pint)
(if served as a first course, 2 quarts makes about 8 servings. )

The soup is made with beets, and other root vegetables as might be found in a Russian farm house—simple stuff. But so pretty! All of the vegetables are ones that can survive a frost (if left in the ground) --and get sweeter if they are left!
I keep it to root vegetables, and mild flavored ones at that—but I am sure you could add other vegetables--one you like are always a good addition!

If you feel the need for a green vegetables to go with, cole slaw is a good idea--since the Russians--along with the Irish-- have a diet based on cabbage! Or serve the soup as a first course and serve sausage and sour kraut as the entreé- Vegetables (as soup!) is one good way to get kids to eat them. A sweet(ish) vegetables soup –a pretty red one at that—is an easy sell to kids. (and as bonus, they get to have pink pee--eating fresh cooked beets can do that!)

Chicken, sweet potato soup:

2 smallish breasts of chicken, cut into a dice
2 red (skinned, white flesh) sweet potatoes-1/2 inch dice (or standard yellow ones.)
1 med carrot (smaller, 1/4 inch dice)
3 smallish onions, diced
a knob of ginger (about the size of your thumb (if your thumb is large!), Minced fine
1 clove of garlic (crushed, and minced or put through a garlic crusher)
1 teaspoon of mild curry powder.
1/2 of of 14 oz can of diced tomato*
about 1 cup of spinach leaved coarsely chopped.
1 small lime (juiced), some chopped cilantro or chopped green onion (garnish)

chicken broth (low sodium) (about 1 qt/30 oz.)
1 can (14 oz of coconut milk
water 14 oz (rinse the coconut milk can!
a bit of oil

*First: Drain the tomatoes and rinse off any remaining liquid(let them drain again )
you want the meat of the tomato, but none of the juice/liquid.
(the tomato juice can be mixed back in with the remaining tomato, or discarded)

Cut up the chicken and heat oil in a dutch oven over hot burner. Brown the chicken (do in batches if needed) The chicken doesn't have to be cooked or browned on all sides--but a little browning add flavor.

Remove chicken from pan, add onions and cook till wilted and golden.
Add minced ginger and garlic, cook 1 to 2 minutes more.
Add curry powder and cook another minute, stirring constantly for that minute.
Add remaining vegetable, (except for the spinach)and chicken, and liquid.
Bring to a boil, (just) and then reduce heat to a low simmer.

Cook about 30 minutes till sweet potatoes and carrots are just almost tender.
Add spinach and cook another 10 minutes.
Add salt and pepper to taste-- not much is needed.
Add the juice of the lime, and garnish with chopped greens.

So now, I have a selection of home made soups... Onion, ginger carrot, borscht and a mild curry soup. Good eating for cold weather, (and the predicted snow this week!)


Judy said...

Sorry to read you are feeling poorly. Hope you get to feeling better.

Inquiring minds want to know, do white-fleshed sweet potatoes have the same texture as an orange sweet potato when cooked? Taste?

Virginia G said...

Ok, despite the fact that you are experiencing petty annoyances, you still managed to make me giggle today. :)

I loooooooooooove Borscht. Love it. Never ever in a million years thought I'd ever hear myself saying that, but I. Love. Borscht.