I’ve been making a lot of soups and stews lately. Tamar Adler’s book stuck with me, for one thing, and because lunch is usually a time-crunched drive-thru affair, this way at least the dinners will be healthier.
It all started with beans, of course, after Adler praised them so vividly. On a whim I had picked up a couple of loaves of bread from Wildflower and wanted something substantial to go with it, so I made a great bean soup out of things we already had in the kitchen: chicken stock, Romaine lettuce, onions, garlic, jarred roasted red peppers, rosemary, olive oil and parsley flakes. Super tasty.
Emboldened by such success, I decided to try black beans next — and again, we already had all the ingredients in the house. This time I got a little more adventurous: a few spoonfuls of veal demi-glace from the jar I never opened after this dish added richness; leftover chipotle peppers in adobo sauce added heat; frozen mixed vegetables added variety … and then I just went crazy. Molasses for a little bit of sweetness and cloves for an interesting bite. The remnants of a bottle of white wine, just because the pot needed liquid and I thought, “Hey, it’s more flavorful than plain water.” Then, a bottle of lager later on, for the same reason. It was hearty enough that I decided to eat it over rice (which also helped mitigate the heat from the chipotles) … and then I tossed the rest of the rice in what was now a stew, as well.
Earlier this week I went back to Wildflower and grabbed another loaf of bread, and today when I was running around town I remembered that we needed butter so I could truly enjoy the slices. And once in the grocery store, I tried to recall what was in the broth of the mussels that I had enjoyed so much at Flex Mussels (hee-hee) in New York. I remembered the fennel but not much else. Rather than try to re-create the sauce without more research — say, the restaurant’s online menu (mine was the Mediterranean) — I decided to make a hearty vegetable soup.
On the menus at Los Dos Molinos the chef has a note — “I do not know how to make ‘Mild’ ” — and lately I feel like if a disclaimer hung in our kitchen, it would read “I do not know how to make small quantities.” By the time I chopped up and sauteed or roasted a bunch of celery, two onions, six carrots, four turnips, three big russet potatoes, two heads of kale, two heads of fennel, five tomatoes and a jar’s worth of roasted red peppers, I needed three big pots to make room for all the ingredients plus vegetable stock and water. As everything came together, in went a bag of lentils, lots of salt and pepper, olive oil and other spices.
The good news: It turned out well. The bad news: I have five Ziploc bags in the freezer, a big bowl and a little bowl in the refrigerator, and a container that will feed our neighbors’ family of five. I’m going to be swimming in soup for a while.
|WHAT SAM WORE: 1-29-12|
|The shirt: “Everybody” T-shirt from the HRC store in Washington, D.C.|
|The shorts: Cotton jersey shorts by C9, from Target.|
|The shoes: Sneakers by Puma, my Christmas gift from Big Booty Judy.|