Monday, March 2, 2009

Soup for Dinner

I can think of few things that stretch a budget longer than a big pot of soup. In the days when cooking was done with food from your own garden and barn it was even more important. In the old large fireplaces a cooking pot hanging over the fire might remain there the entire week while the cook of the house continually replenished it with additional ingredients as they became available. I imagine that they obtained some deep flavor profiles with that method!

I have a copy of the original "Housekeeping in Old Virginia" written in 1877 by Marion Cabell Tyree. It is frightening in many ways because it constantly refers to how to get your servants to do the things that she describes in the book. We know, of course, that these servants are really slaves and it isn't pleasant to think about. There is also the inherent sexism of the time. A message of how to best be a good house wife so your husband will be happy with you. But then again you can find that message stated just as clearly in "Good Housekeeping" magazine as late as the 60's and 70's, long after slavery had been abolished. But if you can overlook that stuff the book really gives you a window into the kitchens of the past and soup was a big part of it.

There are recipes for every type of soup you can imagine in this ancient cookbook and some that you can't - i.e. Brown Calf's Head Soup. There is oyster soup and economical oyster soup, vegetable soup, okra soup, chicken soup, pea soup, four recipes for turtle soup, and six recipes for calf's head including the brown one already mentioned. You are covered on your calf's head recipes. Fortunately we have other options now and it is still a great value to make a big pot of soup. The first recipe that I'm going to give you lasted us over a week. The good thing about this soup is that it actually improves with time! I found this recipe in Bon Appetite and it was copied from a restaurant in Cape Cod called Siena.


2 T Olive oil
1 LB fresh chorizo sausage
2 cups chopped and peeled carrots
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 1/2 cups chopped celery
2 bay leaves
6 garlic cloves
2 T chopped fresh thyme
5 cups of low-salt chicken broth
3 15 ounce cans of black beans, drained, rinsed
1 LB skinless boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 3/4 inch cubes

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add chorizo and next 4 ingredients. Saute until sausage is cooked through, breaking up sausage with back of spoon, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and thyme; saute 2 minutes. Add 5 cups broth; bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer 20 minutes. Add beans and chicken; simmer until chicken is just cooked through, about 10 minutes, adding more broth if desired. Discard bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper.
(If you want to make this a day ahead it will only taste better. The chorizo adds the spice in this soup.)

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