The month of January has been filled with wild temperature swings. The past few days have been frigid, starting in single digits, but staying well south of freezing. And yet, we saw a balmy 50 just this past weekend and 60 one day last week. Climate change is in the air, and something needs to stabilize it.
I do love winter, though maybe not as much as I used to. I certainly prefer winter to summer. The trick is to dress properly. In winter, you can bundle up. In summer, you can only take off so many clothes. My mainstay has been my flannel-lined jeans. That extra layer helps cut the wind and generally keeps me warmer inside and out.
Another trick is eating soup. A bowl of soup is just what the doctor (or maybe the weatherman?) ordered. I’ve made so many delicious pots of soup this month; I just haven’t gotten around to sharing about them.
Here’s a little roundup of my favorites:
This carrot soup is from Smitten Kitchen. The soup itself is nothing exciting, just a simple carrot puree. What makes this soup special are the garnishes: a lemony tahini sauce to swirl in, crispy chickpeas to sprinkle on top (though flavorful, mine were not very crispy), and za’atar topped pita chips (my new favorite snack). A bowl of this fully-adorned soup is a keeper!
This cauliflower soup was recommended by my Dorista friend Teresa from One Wet Foot. My previous go-to cauliflower soup starts with roasted cauliflower. This one does this same. However, Teresa’s soup is seasoned with curry powder. The curry powder also imparts a slight yellow tinge to the soup (you can’t really tell from the photo). This soup achieves a silky, creamy texture without any cream, so it will become my new go-to cauliflower soup recipe. Delicious!
Finally, drawing on inspiration from the freezer, pantry, and refrigerator, I created a pot of Turkey Mushroom Barley Soup. I thawed turkey bones from the freezer to make into rich stock in the slow cooker. To the finished stock, I added a complement of hearty vegetables (about 6 cups in all) and some barley and let it simmer until the barley was nearly tender. Finally, sautéed mushrooms and chopped turkey (frozen leftovers from Thanksgiving) were added to the pot. The result was a thick, hearty soup to warm us from the inside out.
Spring doesn’t usually arrive in these parts until April (optimistically), so there will be many more pots of soup in my future. Do you have a favorite recipe to recommend? Please share!
Turkey Mushroom Barley Soup
8 cups turkey stock (chicken would be fine)
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and diced into ¼-inch pieces
2 stalks celery, diced into ¼-inch pieces
2 turnips, peeled and diced into ¼-inch pieces
1 cup barley
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 pound mushrooms, quartered
2 cups chopped cooked turkey
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
In a large soup pot, combine stock, onion, carrots, celery, turnips, and barley. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cover the pot. Simmer for 40 minutes, until barley is nearly tender. In the meantime, heat the oil in a large skillet. Saute the mushrooms until they have given up all their liquid and the liquid in the skillet evaporates. The mushrooms should be tender at this point. When the stock has simmered for 40 minutes, the barley should be nearly tender. Add the mushrooms and turkey. Continue to cook the soup until the barley is completely tender and the turkey is warmed through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
I’m sure that each time I make a beef stewy thing I mention that it’s not my favorite sort of meal. I’ve never been able to sort out whether it’s the long-cooked vegetables or the texture of the meat. So, I was ambivalent when I set out to make this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe for Beef Daube with Carrots and Elbow Macaroni.
The recipe ideally calls for beef cheeks. I still have a chest freezer half-filled with the hind quarter of a cow that we purchased last fall from my sister’s father-in-law who raised it. At the time, we requested the beef cheeks, even though they are obviously from the other end of the animal, thinking others might not want this less familiar meat. Unfortunately, we didn’t get it.
As an alternative, the recipe suggests using chuck roast. Chuck roast is the shoulder of the cow, again from the wrong end of what we have. It seemed like I should use something I had rather than going to the store to buy more beef. I looked up other alternative cuts that are good for braising and so I used a round roast which is part of the hind quarter. Otherwise, I stuck to the recipe with the addition of two parsnips that were sitting in my vegetable drawer.
The meat smelled great as it browned, though it did make a big mess of the stovetop in spite of the splatter guard. The vegetables plus some bacon were softened before making a gravy with the addition of some flour, water, beef broth and red wine. The meat was added back in and the pot sealed up with foil, then it braised in a slow oven for nearly two hours, filling the kitchen with a wonderful aroma.
Shortly before the daube was done, I cooked some elbow macaroni and grated some bittersweet chocolate. The chocolate was stirred into the pot and allowed to simmer, stovetop, for a few minutes before stirring in the nearly cooked pasta.
I loved the flavors in this stew. The carrots and parsnips made the gravy sweet and the chocolate added extra complexity. I also liked how the elbows absorbed the delicious sauce. The only negative is that I definitely chose the wrong cut of meat to substitute. The round was a bit tough which took away from the end result. I think if the meat were more meltingly tender, I would have loved it. All isn’t lost as I would definitely try this again with the recommended chuck or cheeks. I’m sure that would fix the issue I caused. Howard, who is more of a beef stew person than I am, had the same problem with the meat, but thought the elbows added a fun touch to the meal.
I liked the wine I added to the pot: Toasted Head Untamed Red, which included the suggested Syrah grapes along with Zinfandel and Petite Syrah. There was enough left in the bottle for two glasses to drink along with the meal. Perfect!
We don’t’ share the recipes made in this cooking group, but I encourage you to find the recipe in Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table.
To see how other bloggers’ daubes came out, and whether they found cheeks or not, check out their links here.