Winter Warmers

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Img_0365_resize It has been SOOOO cold here in Melbourne over the past couple of days, I just had to make some of my Winter Warmer Soup….. it’s the first time this year…. reminding me that the cooler season is on our doorstep….  I LOVE the change of seasons…. each of them holds special things… I love the colours of autumn (fall) we are experiencing at the moment as trees prepare to sleep……. I love the comfort food of winter & the smell of slow cooking & the feel of a soft woollen jumper and cozying up to the crackling of an open fire…..slowly the days lengthen and you see hints of new life & buds start to appear & little nodes from early bulbs push their way into the light or Spring & very soon we are surrounded by a riot of colour & glorious vistas wherever you look……..before you know it Christmas is upon us & it is summer…… long, long, hot, hot days……days that feel like they will never end, particularly when there are two or Img_0595_resize three at 40+ degrees C (105+F) days in a row……we swim, we barbeque, we wear light clothing & enjoy the light & the sun & the prosperity of soul it brings…….and the seasons turn again as the days shorten & the cycle of seasons begins again….. I learn to be content & have peace from observing the seasons, knowing that we all endure both summer’s & winter’s in our lives……and are evermore richer for them both.

If you would like the recipe for my soup……….see the continuation below…..this is my own recipe, not from a book, so it is only for your personal use, not for republishing or reuse in any form.

Winter Soup

Ingredients

This recipe is to make with red meat or red meat bones.  It doesn’t adapt well to chicken or chicken bones because it is a ‘slow cook’ recipe that sits on the stove for hours, & chicken is too light for this treatment.  The soup will taste different every time that you make it, because while there are general guidelines, there really are no SPECIFIC ingredients, & they can vary in type & quantity, making each pot a new taste – depending what you have in the fridge or is available for sale at the time.  You need a solid, heavy bottomed pot to cook a good soup, as it needs to simmer for several hours & in a ‘light’ pot, it will just burn on the bottom, ruining the whole thing.  I use an 11 litre stock pot, so if yours is smaller, just adjust the ingredients accordingly.

BEGIN BY adding to the pot
50 gr butter

A splash of olive oil

4 medium onions coarsely chopped

2 cloves of garlic coarsely chopped (NOT crushed – you loose too much flavour)

Fry quickly & keep hot


THEN
(if using lamb (shanks) or beef (osso buco; gravy beef; shin)

Add meat to hot pot, keep heat up & sear meat.  Cook for about 10 mins, keeping heat up & keeping an eye on it so that it doesn’t burn.

If using bones (bacon bones, beef/marrow bones)

Sear bones in hot pot, stir until browned.

AT THIS TIME

I usually start chopping up all my veggies, make no mistake, the soup pot is not the last stop before the compost bin – I like to only use crisp fresh ingredients.  Withered vegetables make a tired, uninteresting soup!  Use the freshest ingredients for the best result.

Vegetables I like to use in a winter soup include:

Carrots, pumpkin, sweet potato, swede, parsnip, turnip, capsicum (red & green), zucchini, celery, (you can use mushrooms or broccoli, but I am not keen on them in the brew!)

Other than that:

IF you want to add potato – use ONLY 1 large one (more than that makes the soup starchy & glutinous)

2 roughly chopped firm tomatoes

A  heaped handful of dried soup mix (usually contains a combination of legumes & pulses – chick peas, barley, split peas, Borlotti beans, black-eyed peas or beans, Cannellini beans, lentils)


ADD WATER/STOCK

If you want to eat the meat you are using, add quite hot/boiling water to the pot to seal in the taste of the meat.  If you don’t want to eat the meat, & are just using it to flavour the soup, then you can use cold water.  If you are just using bones, use cold water so that all of the flavour comes out of them.  For about 10 lt of soup, I add about 6 stock cubes & I usually use 3 vege flavoured & 3 beef ones.  This number may vary according to taste & whether you add salt & pepper later to serve. (use less stock cubes).  If you have some good stock on hand, you can use that instead of water, but with a large volume of soup, you may still want to add one or two stock cubes to taste.

THEN WAIT

I like to simmer my soup on a low heat, with the lid on (so that it doesn’t evaporate) for hours, stiring it about every 20-30 mins, keeping a check on it.  If I can’t keep an eye on it for some reason, at this point, I would tip the whole lot into my slow cooker, to cook overnight, or for several hours while I am away somewhere.

It is usually ready to eat after about 3 hours or so, but it is nicer if it can cook for about 5 hours,

SERVE

before serving, I usually roughly chop some fresh parsley & throw it in.   Any soup tastes great with fresh bread, but if I only have yesterday’s bread, I toast it with cheese on top, & cut the slices into strips & put them in the soup as I am serving.

STORE

Once the soup is cooked, don’t leave it out of the fridge.  Let it cool & either put the whole pot into the fridge, or put some into containers for freezing & put the rest in the fridge.  If you put the whole pot in the fridge, don’t reheat it each time, just take out what you are using & put the pot back in the fridge.

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