Warm your soul with stews and soups…..

November 12, 2003

Warm your soul with stews and soups…..

I love having a pot of something simmering on the back burner, beckoning for me to come and have a bowlful. A few weeks ago, on my birthday, I wanted to dwell in the cooler weather and have some good comfort food. I found myself at the grocery store in the morning, happily unaccompanied by little ones.

I was craving some good osso bucco. I rarely see veal shanks in the meat case, but I have found that if you ask the store butcher, they usually have some in the back. On this day, as I asked the butcher, he eagerly went off to the back, returning with beautiful meaty shanks for me. I took all seven of them and hurried home to get them going. Adam played with the boys who were riding bikes in the driveway. It was a wonderful sunny and cool day so I had the front door wide open. I busied myself at the stove, browning the meat, then the onions. I hurriedly added the other ingredients, set the pot on to simmer, and went outside to enjoy the rest of the day with my family.

We had a good walk at the Nepaug reservoir with Eli riding his bike way ahead, enjoying his independence, and Emmett with his little “happy feet” way of trotting along with us. The sun was glistening on the water and I was wishing we were back in Vinalhaven looking out over the water in the cove. It is always a peaceful feeling to look out across an expanse of water, grounding in a way. In the same way, it is grounding to have “comfort food” and to combine the two is wonderful. So it was a good birthday that combined the peacefulness of being near the water, and the homey taste of a stew at the end of the day.

The cold is rapidly approaching us here in the northeast. Enjoy the crisp weather. Let it find you and allow it to chill your body to really enjoy the experience fully. Put one of these on to cook early in the day. Let the scent of it simmering fill your house and allow it to peak your taste buds. Get some good wine and a beautiful large bowl to ladle some of the soul warming food into. Then enjoy a leisurely dinner, warming your mind, body, and soul.

Osso Bucco

A great recipe from a friend. Very easy to make, great when veal shanks are on sale. This is fairly soupy and is best served over orzo in big bowls.

6 meaty veal shanks, bone-in
olive oil
2 onions, chopped
1 lemon, squeezed, + 1 tsp zest
2 cans (16 oz) crushed tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup dry red wine (I use merlot if I have it)
salt, pepper, sugar
4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

1. In a large heavy bottomed pot, braise veal in olive oil for 5 minutes on each side.
2. Add onions and cook for 5 more minutes.
3. Add remaining ingredients except for feta, and simmer for at least 2 hours. The longer you cook it the better.
4. (this step is optional, but it is what I always do) Take out the shanks and remove the meat from the bone, cutting into bite sized chunks, before returning to the pot.
5. Ladle into large bowls with orzo already in the bottom, adding crumbled feta to the top of each helping.

Makes 4-6 servings -depending on size of servings and amount of orzo you serve it with.

Italian Sausage Soup

A wonderful recipe from a friend in Nantucket. Easy and really good!!!
2 lbs. Italian sausage (I use 1 lb hot, 1 lb sweet)
2 cloves minced garlic
2 medium onions, chopped
1 lg. can crushed tomatoes
3 cans beef broth (or use bouillon cubes & water)
1 1/2 C. red wine
1 T. basil leaves
1/2 tsp. Oregano leaves
1 T. chopped parsley
2 unhealed zucchini, sliced and quartered
1 cup small shell macaroni
1/2 cup water
grated Parmesan cheese
Take covering off sausage and brown meat.
Drain well and add all ingredients in large pot except macaroni.
Simmer 2 hours, add macaroni.
Cook until pasta is done.
Serve with Parmesan cheese on top when ready.
Makes plenty!

Indian Lamb with Onions

From Madhur Jaffrey’s Quick and Easy Indian Cooking- with a few minor changes. So good and so easy since everything goes in the pot at the same time and just stews!

3 Tbs. oil
1 very large red onion, sliced thinly
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
6 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 pounds lamb, cut into 1” chunks
1 large tomato, chopped
6 Tbsp plain yogurt
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp salt

Put all the ingredients- except for garam masala- into a large dutch oven and mix well.
Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until meat is somewhat cooked.
Cover and lower heat- cook for another 20 minutes or so.
Raise heat and cook until sauce is thickened, stirring often.
Serve with basmati rice.
Serves 4.

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