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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Just Souper

The thing I like about cold winter weather...when we get spending time in the kitchen around a hot stove filling the house with yummy smells, like soup. Soups is good foods. When it comes to soups, I'm not so much a follow the recipe gal as a toss it in the pot and see if it works kind of soup cook.

I find I make the best soups when I pilfer the fridge and raid the cabinets to see what mixed bag of goodies I have and them bring them together in a big pot. My latest concoction I call Spicy Sausage Onion Soup.

Okay, start with a packet of onion soup mix. (I don't know about you, but I don't think I've ever actually used onion soup mix for soup before, for dips sure, but soup, well that's just crazy talk.) Instead of using just water with the mix, I added in some vegetarian vegetable broth (not because this is a vegetarian dish, but because I had it in my pantry).

Next I added in a can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes (for those like me who don't care for tomato lumps, I suggest you puree them first...ah, I didn't...I don't know why...just didn't...stop asking) and then drained and added a can of red kidney beans (I had light, you can use either). Let that all boil around for a while, get the pot really hot.

Now the fun, I denuded some spicy Italian sausages of their casing, cut them into slides and then cut the slices in half (they make cute little almost-but-not-quite sausage balls) and fried them up, drained them and tossed them in the pot. I diced up two small zucchinis and sauted them in some of the sausage grease and tossed them into the pot. Next, wiped the greasy pan clean and dry sauted some fresh spinach and (everyone now) tossed it into the pot. Then I let that simmer on low until my stomach started grumbling loud enough to scare the cats.

I recommend sprinkling some parmesan cheese on the top and some crusty French loaf to eat with it (though I had to pass on the bread because of the current self-imposed no carbs rule). I also found that the soup gets even better after it's had time to sit overnight and the flavors can blend. The onion-tomato combo makes this a nice rich soup. The next time, I would probably add some cabernet savignon to the broth to make it even tastier.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Variety, spice, get the gist

It's truly a great time to be alive and eating. The prevelant number of people with food allergies and restriction is now easily offset with the ready availability of specialty foods, tailored to fit any and all preferences and needs.

Jan 1, I got together with some old friends for a Kegs-N-Eggs New Year's Day thing. I got there early enough to push my way into the kitchen to help with prep. As friends filtered in, everyone brought something different to contribute, ending result -- six types of breakfast meat! There was turkey sausage and turkey bacon and pork sausage and pork bacon and vegetarian sausage and MSG-free hot and spicy sausage. It was all pretty friggin awesome and afterwards, it felt a lot like Thanksgiving all over again.

Actually working with and around peoples food preferences and restrictions is one of the things I like most about cooking. It forces you crawl out of the food box and look at recipes with a new eye. It's challeging, but fun, especially if you can pull it off (successfully). Maybe in this new year, Wendi and I can come up with some specialty menus and recipes to pass along for those of you with a Dos & Don'ts food list of your own.

I hope everyone had safe passage into 2009. Stay tuned, more to come!