Friday, January 27, 2012

Rainy day cooking

Today was one of those perfect, cold, gray, rainy days just made for cooking, so after I spent a surprisingly short amount of time at the DMV renewing my driver's license, I picked up a loaf of sourdough bread and some sour cream and went home to make soup, which is not only an excellent activity for a rainy wintry afternoon, but also a great way to clean out the refrigerator (provided that anything fuzzy or out of date does not actually make it into the pot).

I chopped up a large red onion, a shallot, three stalks of celery, a small bunch of slightly wilted carrots, at least half a dozen cloves of garlic, half a small head of cabbage, two small zucchini, one small yellow squash, one broccoli crown, and about eight medium-sized white mushrooms.

The onion, shallot, garlic, celery, and carrots went into my larger enameled cast iron pot (like Le Creuset but not) with enough oil to coat and seasoned with sea salt and fresh ground pepper.  (I have a nice blend of peppercorns.)  They were cooked, covered, over medium low heat for about fifteen minutes, stirred frequently to keep them from sticking and burning.

Seasonings went in next -- dried basil and paprika (two teaspoons each) and tomato paste (two heaping tablespoons -- and the lot was stirred together and cooked at a higher temperature for a couple of minutes.  I always find that the vegetables get a bit dry at this point, in danger of burning, so I add half a cup of wine to keep everything moist and yet still hot.  This time it was Grappa La Court red wine.

Then the rest of the chopped vegetables were added, along with a couple of handfuls of spinach, which I did not chop, another one and a half cups of wine and six cups of vegetable broth.  I think I chopped up a bit more cabbage and threw that in as well.

I simmered the lot for about twenty minutes and then started tasting.  Yum!  The wine is rather strong, and fairly tannic, so the broth was a shade bitter.  I ground in a little more sea salt and some herbs (a blend which came packaged in their own little grinder), and simmered a bit longer.  Even more yum!

A hefty slice of sourdough bread, and lunch was served.

One of the main reasons I make a version of this soup fairly often is that it freezes really well and is therefore great to take to work for lunch, so I am set for lunches next week.

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