Category Archives: Soup or Stew

A Soup for Any Sausage

Do you like hearty soups that are easy to make? Me too, and I came across a great recipe via a Facebook cooking group the other day that I just had to try. I will admit that part of the appeal was that the recipe, as written, had only seven ingredients, plus salt and pepper to taste, and very uncomplicated directions, which was just what I wanted. Sometimes it’s nice to just take it easy and still have a great homemade meal.

First, I am going to give you the basic recipe. Note: I used the recipe as a base, or a “cue,” I could say, because when doing my ingredient checklist, I realized that the only sausage meat I had not in casings was fresh chorizo, and I wanted to keep my stash of Italian sausage links intact. (I buy shares from my local farmers and it comes frozen, so I have a stash that will last until late spring.) Plus, it was only 3/4 lb, so I figured I would want to find something to round things out to be equivalent of the missing 1/4 pound asked for by the recipe. So, keep reading below for what I did. Here is the original including it’s notes and suggestions. I am certain it is delicious as written!

Sicilian Sausage Soup

  • 1 lb Italian sausage meat
  • I medium onion, chopped
  • 1 lge green pepper, chopped
  • 1 35 oz can Italian peeled tomatoes*
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • s&p to taste
  • 3/4 cup orzo

Brown sausage meat. Add onion and pepper and cook until soft. Add the tomatoes, broth and basil, breaking up the tomatoes as you do. Bring to a boil and a stir in the orzo.
Reduce heat and softly boil 10 minutes. Remove from heat as the orzo will continue to cook and expand, making the soup too thick.

  • It’s important to use the 35 oz can, not a 28 oz, as it does not give you enough liquid.
    If you cannot find the Italian sausage meat, you can buy a pound of links and remove the casing; just be sure to really break up the links!

As noted above, I only had 3/4 lb of sausage and of a different type than called for. I decided adding some beans would be a good idea, but of course, didn’t have any cooked or canned white beans, which is the kind I thought would go nicely. Never fear! Since I was not planning to make the soup for an hour or so, I simply rinsed 1/2 pound dried cannellini beans in a small casserole with 2 cups of water and a teaspoon of regular salt, covered, and popped into the preheated to 350 oven. 1 1/2 hours later, I had cooked beans ready to pop into the soup. (I could have gotten by with cooking just a 1/4 pound, but I wanted some leftover to pop in the freezer for another time.)

Three types of Baer's Best Beans.

Just a note about dried legumes: you do NOT need to soak them before cooking. This is especially true if you know your beans are fresh, as in recently grown and dried. I get my dried legumes from Baer’s Best Beans, grown in South Berwick Maine. Pictured are my three favorites: Cannellini, Black Coco, and Yellow Eye. The latter is the traditional bean for Boston Baked Beans and is the type I use for that classic dish. For more about cooking dried beans, see my post on the Wakefield Farmers Market recipe site.

If I share the video I made of this recipe adventure, you will see that I was a total space case in that I did not read through the ingredients or directions carefully when prepping and discovered, when called for, that I had not realized that I needed a quart of chicken broth. Luckily I had a quart of store-bought handy since I would have had to stop the process to defrost some from my freezer.

Along with adding about a cup of cooked beans, I used not quite a whole orange bell pepper instead of a whole green one, and tossed in about 2 cups of store-bought shredded cabbage and and carrot I had left over from making moo shu pork. (I will share that recipe later – great for a family or a crowd.)

Originally I assumed that I would not need to add the basil, but when doing the final seasoning, I decided it would work with the chorizo flavor and added a bit over the teaspoon of dried basil noted in the original recipe. I also added a number of grinds of black pepper, and two big pinches of salt just to pop the flavor.

Again, I am sure the recipe is great as written, and I can vouch that you can use is as a guideline if you have particular flavors you like or have veggies or/or legumes in your fridge that you want to use up. In any case, it is quick, easy, and tasty, and you can’t beat that! Just make sure you have some chicken stock handy. 😉

Simple Noodle, Sausage, and Veggie Soup

soup potNeed a quick and tasty meal that is healthy, too?  Bring a few cups of water to a boil in a saucepan, add thinly chopped or sliced veggies and a cooked hot sausage cut in thin rounds, and a handful of soba noodles broken in half, or any type of noodle – whole grain if possible.

Simmer for 5-6 minutes until the veggies are tender to taste, sprinkle in some dried parsley – or add chopped fresh greens, and season to taste. The soup pictured has soba noodles, carrots, soup closeupcauliflower, hot sausage, and dried parsley – and it hit the spot!


NOTE: This version got its seasoning from the cooked hot sausage. If you use tofu, tempeh, or beans, etc, you may want to add tamari and/or other seasonings to jazz it up.

And Then There Was Stock. Turkey Stock :)

turkey stockOnce you have gotten a few meals from your Herb Roasted Butterflied Turkey after first enjoying the bird during your Low Stress Turkey Dinner feast, the next step is to make a lovely stock from the bones and scraps, being sure to get as much meat off the bones as you can to hold in reserve for the soup you will, of course, be making.

I had already used the neck, “butt,” heart and gizzard, and backbone for the gravy stock, but there were still plenty of bones to flavor the 10 cups of water I used to cover the bones and veggies in my pressure cooker.  No pressure cooker? Get one!  🙂  Well, you won’t regret it if you do.  Get a Presto. That way you will always be able to find replacement gaskets. But, ANYWAY, you can also make stock via the stovetop simmer method, but it will be much quicker using a pressure cooker, and the pressure infuses the flavor so you don’t have to cook the stock down (lose volume) to get a hearty stock.

Along with the bones and scraps of meat and skin from my 14.5 pound turkey, I used 10 cups of water, a stalk of celery, two carrots, the 1/4 onion I had in the fridge, 10 or so peppercorns, a bay leave, and two corn cobs.  Instead of throwing out corn cobs or full ears that doesn’t get eaten soon enough when it is in season, I freeze them and  use one or two cobs in every poultry or veggie stock that I make. Doing so adds a great flavor.

Using this bird and proportions, I got 2 quarts of very tasty stock, half of which I will use for soup, and the rest I poured into two ice cube trays. Once frozen, I’ll remove the cubes of stock from the trays and put in a plastic bag to be used as needed for soups, gravies, or to flavor grains. Next step? The soup, of course, but I think I will use all my leftover mashed potatoes as a top “crust” on a few turkey pot pies…  Oh, on more thing.  If you can do it, be sure to use a pasture-raised turkey from a local farmer.  The flavor and texture is so beyond that of a standard turkey of any type.  Do it.  You and your family are worth the splurge.

Give Thanks, Laugh Often, and Cook with your Heart, Mind, and Soul.


Miso Soup with Soba Noodles, Nettles, and Daikon Radish

done 1 One of the many paths I’ve traveled is that of the vegan/macrobiotic herbalist, apparently for long enough that this soup is one of my comfort foods. Basically, all you have to do to make it is boil some water, add some soba or other noodles of your choice, along with whatever greens, veggies, and seasonings that you like. Once all is cooked, put a few teaspoons or more of your favorite type of miso paste in a soup bowl, add some of the hot broth to dissolve, and then ladle in a cup or two of the soup.  So easy!


the ingredients

Here is how I made it this time:

8 cups water
1 cup or more chopped daikon radish
3/4 cup or so chopped carrot
3/4 cup chopped zucchini
A handful or two of greens, chopped as needed (I used stinging nettles, parsley, and lambsquarters)
3 oz (when dry) soba noodles
1/2 cup cooked aduki beans*
1 cup chopped tofu
2 tsp miso

*The aduki beans were an after thought – I remembered I has some left over in the fridge. The zucchini was, too, now that I think of it. I had a 3 inch piece in the fridge that needed using.

soba noodle soup ready to cook

Ready to cook

To make: Bring water to a boil. Add everything except the miso and cook at least until the noodles are done, which would be about 6 minutes, and cook longer if desired.

With aduki beans added

After adding the aduki beans

To serve: dissolve the miso in a bowl in some hot broth, then add soup and season to taste or enjoy as is.

Suggestions: fresh garlic, tamari, rice vinegar, or even just some salt would be good, or really, anything that you like!. It’s a perfect venue for leftovers and experimental seasoning.


It was delicious!



Miso for a “Souper” Flavor Boost

There is nothing like a simple chicken soup made by simmering the carcass of a roasted or grilled chicken for an hour or so along with a few veggies to round out the flavor.  Along with pulling out the last bit of flavor and nutrition, the simmering process makes it a lot easier to pull off those last bits of meat from the bones.

And that’s just what I did today. I had saved all the bones from 3.5 or so pound chicken (in this case, freshly slaughtered pasture-raised chicken from Copicut Farms of Dartmouth MA) and, after picking the last bite-size pieces off for chicken salad, tossed them in a saucepan along with 1/2 ear of leftover corn and some green onion stems, and covered with water before setting on the stove to simmer.


Chicken soup with miso accompanied by a slice of Farmers Whole Wheat bread from Mamadou’s Artisan Bakery.

After an hour or so, I strained the stock, let things cool a bit, picked the final bits of meat off the bones, and put the meat in the fridge to stay at a safe temperature while I finished off the soup. The possibilities are endless, but I chose to slice two small carrots and tear up a few leaves and stems of arugula to add to the stock after bringing it back to a simmer. Oh, I also cut the kernels off that 1/2 ear of corn. Waste not, want not, and corn adds fiber.  🙂 All the veggies were from Farmer Dave’s of Dracut MA.

I had tried a sip of the stock when it was first done and it was just fine – simple, clean, but with a bit of depth to the flavor that differentiates a stock from cooked bones and a broth from raw chicken.  But suddenly, as I was adding the chicken back to the soup, I remembered the miso soup I had enjoyed when eating out a few weeks before. At that time, I had said to myself “I need to remember to make miso soup.” I do always have at least one type of miso paste in my fridge and am thankful that, being a live fermented food, miso paste keeps well since I remember to use it less often than I would like.

Mellow White Miso is what I had in the fridge and it turns out that it is a great match for chicken. I put about a teaspoon in a small bowl, added some of the hot stock to dissolve, added more soup, and stirred it up. Voila!  The miso paste added a subtle complexity that brought this simple soup to a new level, perfect for a special occasion as well as for an everyday meal.

Do note that you should never add miso paste during the cooking or reheating process or the probiotics/ “good bacteria” will be killed.  The best approach is to add it to each individual bowl as served. And, I highly recommend pairing this and any soup with a slice of bread from Mamadou’s Artisan Bakery of Winchester MA.  Sometimes the simplest ingredients make for the most splendid of meals.

Caldo Verde: A Classic Fall or Winter Soup from Cook’s Illustrated

I admit it. I am totally in love with my magazine and online subscriptions to Cook’s Illustrated, even though I do find some of the recipes a bit fussy for my taste. But this Caldo Verde recipe is quick and easy to prepare, uses inexpensive  and healthy ingredients, and tastes sublime. In this version, I did not change anything in the recipe other than to use leek instead of onion and reducing the amounts proportionately because I only had 7 oz of chorizo sausage on hand instead of the 12 oz called for in the recipe, although I did use the full pound of collard greens.

First, brown the chorizo

First, brown the chorizo

Here is the recipe verbatim from Cook’s Illustrated:

Caldo Verde

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
12 ounces Spanish-style chorizo sausage, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 onion, chopped fine ( I chopped up some leek, instead)
4 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups water
1 pound collard greens, stemmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar

Leeks and garlic

Leeks and garlic

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add chorizo and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer chorizo to bowl and set aside. Reduce heat to medium and add onion (or leek), garlic, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, and pepper flakes and season with pepper to taste. Cook, stirring frequently, until onion is translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add potatoes, broth, and water; increase heat to high and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until potatoes are just tender, 8 to 10 minutes.

cooking the potatoes

cooking the potatoes

Transfer 3/4 cup solids and 3/4 cup broth to blender jar. Add collard greens to pot and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in chorizo and continue to simmer until greens are tender, 8 to 10 minutes longer.

Gorgeous collard greens from Flats Mentor Farm

Gorgeous collard greens from Flats Mentor Farm

adding the greens

adding the greens

Add remaining 3 tablespoons oil to soup in blender and process until very smooth and homogeneous, about 1 minute. Remove pot from heat and stir pureed soup mixture and vinegar into soup. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve. (Soup can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.)

Before adding the processed liquid and potatoes

Before adding the processed liquid and potatoes

Hey, I just realized I forgot the vinegar…Oh well, next time.  🙂

Anyway, there really isn’t much more to say because I pretty much followed the instructions as is, with the only other minor difference being that I used my immersion blender with the handy blending jar it comes with for such purposes to do the pureeing part.

This recipe is a total winner in my book, and Steve loved it, too.  Plus, I can see using it as a jumping off point for a number of variations depending on what I have on hand on a given day.  In any case, it’s a keeper!



Under Pressure: A Tough Old Bird Goes Tender

Upon learning that I had never prepared a stewing hen, Jeff from Copicut Farms suggested I try one since he knows I like to experiment in the kitchen.

Spoiler Alert: 15 minutes in a pressure cooker does the trick, although I know one can have equally excellent results using a crock pot or simmering or braising the bird long and slow on the stove top or in the oven.

The other spoiler alert:  Stewing hens are UG-U-LY!

The hen with the ingredients going into the pressure cooker.

The hen with the ingredients (other than the neck- I put that in the freezer to use later for stock or a gravy base) going into the pressure cooker.

This angle shows just how skinny the breast is.

This angle shows just how skinny the breast is.

I was a bit short on time and I also had a hankering for garbanzo beans since, in my research, I had come across some recipes that combined chicken and chick peas, as garbanzos are also known, in a hearty stew, hence my opting for the pressure cooker method.

I came up with an outline for a recipe, posted it on Facebook so I would have it in writing, and onward into the kitchen I went to get the beans into a quick soak before cooking them with the chicken and barley.  I had decided I wanted a stew and barley seemed a good choice for a fall concoction.

There are some variations in instructions for soaking beans, but generally, dried legumes bigger than lentils or peas need to be soaked about 8 hours and then drained before cooking in fresh water.  If short on time, you cover the beans by about an inch of water in a pot, bring it to a boil, remove from heat, and let sit covered for an hour in lieu  of the longer soak.

In a real pinch, you can opt to cook beans in the pressure cooker without any soaking, but unsoaked garbanzos would have taken way longer than the chicken and barley; plus, I’d rather soak beans so as to make them more digestible.

While the beans soaked, I gathered the first set of ingredients and cut up the chicken and seasoned it with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Cut up and seasoned with salt and pepper

Cut up and seasoned with salt and pepper

Once the beans were ready to go, I lightly browned the chicken in some olive oil, added a clove or two of garlic, (about a scant tablespoon chopped) stirred until fragrant, and then added the soaked and drained garbanzos and 1/2 cup pearl barley that I had first picked over and rinsed.  I tossed in two bay leaves and topped it all off with 6 cups of water, closed the lid, brought to pressure, and cooked for 15 minutes.

lightly browned and garlic just added

lightly browned and garlic just added

chicken, with the garbanzos, barley, and 6 cups of water ready to go

chicken, with the garbanzos, barley, and 6 cups of water ready to go.

After the 15 minutes, I removed the pressure cooker from heat and let it sit until the pressure came down naturally and the pot could be opened safely.  (You can run a pressure cooker under cold water – the fast release method – but it can wreak havoc with some foods, such as beans!)

First I removed the chicken.

First I removed the chicken.

Just so you know, while I left the skin on for the flavor, it sure does not look pretty!

Just so you know, while I left the skin on for the flavor, it sure does not look pretty!

All drained!

All drained!

Then I drained the beans and barley because they were almost too done and I still had carrots and leeks to cook in the liquid.

Chopped carrot and leek - both veggies from Farmer Dave.

Chopped carrot and leek – both veggies from Farmer Dave.

Along with carrot and leek from Farmer Dave, I chopped up a bunch of fresh parsley from Flats Mentor Farm to make a 2-3  tablespoons, and added a teaspoon each of dried oregano and dried thyme to the liquid.

This parsley from Flats Mentor Farm is so gorgeous I had to take a picture.

This parsley from Flats Mentor Farm is so gorgeous I had to take a picture.

I also had a tomato that was just about too ripe, so I chopped that up to add to the fun.

I was just using up a tomato, but I recommend keep this ingredient in the recipe. :)

I was just using up a tomato, but I recommend keeping  this ingredient in the recipe. 🙂

Next I brought the liquid back to boil, added the veggies, and simmered until the veggies were tender. 

While that was going on, I picked the now cooled chicken off the bones and the skin off the chicken and pulled the chicken meat into bite-sized pieces.

The just over 2.5 lb chicken resulted in just over 9 ounces of meat.

The just over 2.5 lb chicken resulted in just over 9 ounces of meat.

Note how dark the meat it compared to that from a chicken raised for butchering. It makes for a nice deep flavor…Nothing against Copicut Farms regular chickens!  Those rock, too.  🙂 And have more meat, of course.

Once the veggies were tender, I added the chicken, garbanzos, and barley back to the stock, and heated through.


All together and ready to heat through.

All done! Delicious.

All done! Delicious.

A final touch of salt and pepper was all it needed.  Quick, easy, tasty, nutritious.  A winner!  I’ll be asking Copicut Farms to bring some more stewing chickens to the market this week, that is for sure!  And, thanks for the suggestion, Jeff!  🙂

So Simple Broccoli Soup

Why broccoli soup? Well, one reason is the two full bunches of broccoli (read: over three pounds) that Steve brought home instead of the 2-3 broccoli crowns I requested…They say necessity is the mother of invention but, in this case, too much of a good thing ended up inspiring a wonderful new favorite way to get our vegetables.

Soup was the logical way to use up that much fresh broccoli when the household is comprised of just two people, even two who love their veggies.  I have recently been making a lovely roasted cauliflower soup (I’ll post the recipe soon, I promise!) that is basically just roasted cauliflower and onion with stock and seasoning, so I was wondering if I could do something similar with the broccoli.  So…off to the Internet went I.

The short story is that, at least during my hasty search, I did not find any broccoli soup recipes that did not use something to thicken it, whether it be a flour roux, dairy, nuts, or soy or rice milk. I did, however, find one that added carrot and another that included apples.  Well….since I had plenty of broccoli to spare, I decided to just go with no thickener as see how it would turn out.  Of course, I knew I had the option of adding a roux or cream at the end if the texture was to0 thin for the taste.


The final product. Yum!

Here is what I used:

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 1/2 or a bit more dried thyme
  • fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 smallish apple, peeled and chopped
  • about one pound or 8 cups  of broccoli florets
  • 4 cups  stock – I used chicken*

broccoil florets

The 8 cups florets

First, I melted the butter and olive oil and added just the onions, cooking on low  until starting to soften, and then added the diced carrot and the dried thyme and ground pepper and continued cooking, now over medium, for a few more minutes.

Starting with the onions, carrot, and seasonings.

Starting with the onions, carrot, and seasonings.

I then added the chopped apple, stirring for a bit to coat it in the oil and seasoning, then stirred the broccoli to coat as well. Next, I added the 4 cups of stock, brought it all to just a boil and then simmered for about 15 minutes or so, until the broccoli was fork-soft.

*A Note about stock:  I used chicken stock, but if you want a totally vegetarian version, I am sure veggie stock, or even plain water will work, albeit you might want to add some tamari or better yet,  miso, and/or other seasonings to give a bit more depth to the flavor.  OR, keep it light and punch up the brightness with a dash of rice vinegar or lemon juice.

Cooked and reeady to blend!

Cooked and ready to blend!

The last step was to blend.  I used an immersion blender, but a regular blender would work, as well, as would just using a potato masher or food mill – whatever you have available.



It sure looked tasty, although it was not as thick as the typical “Cream of whatever” soup. But the taste was superb and Steve and I both agreed that the texture was perfect as is – no additional thickening needed.  In fact, I think any thickener would reduce the brightness of the flavor…hmmm, I bet a squeeze of lemon would be a nice touch, albeit perhaps not on a cold winter day…

I will add that I don’t think using a thickener would hurt the recipe – but the change in texture would probably inspire, and possibly necessitate, some additional seasoning.  But, it is all a matter of taste.  Adding a  1/2 cup of cream at the end, or adding a few tablespoons flour and cooking with the veggies before adding the stock are two options, as is adding a roux at the end.

But honestly this is great as is – and note that I added no salt.  AND, Steve didn’t even add any!  THAT’S saying something.  🙂

And that’s that!  I suspect Steve and I will eat this batch of soup in a day or so, but I’ll make another batch with my OTHER big bunch of broccoli and see how it freezes.  I’ll report back when I do.   In the meantime – take this recipe out for a spin and make it your own.  I will again say: YUM!

I froze some of the first batch and defrosted it the next day.  Still fabulous!  Make a big batch when you find nice fresh broccoli on sale. 🙂

Delightful Summer Chowder!

Oh. My. God.  Or OMG for short.  🙂  However and whatever the exclamatory phrase, the chowder I made last night was totally amazingly delicious!

The impetus was about a cup each, give or take, of lobster meat and shelled but not yet chopped steamed clams and 6 cups of clam broth left over from a lobster and steamer feast in honor of (and held a few days earlier than) Steve’s birthday.

I went online and perused various clam, seafood, and corn chowder recipes and then decided to just wing it, using the basic steps as a guide.  In particular, I wanted to use the squash blossoms, kohlrabi, and Asian greens in my fridge and sensed that these ingredients would work well together.  I was right.  <grin>

the veggies in the raw

Green onion (bulbs were used for another recipe) carrots, Asian basil, Asian spinach, squash blossoms, kohlrabi, and corn. Missing are celery,fresh parsley and potatoes.

Here are the ingredients I used for this recipe:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups chopped green onion  – top of white and part green (no bulb)
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped or diced
  • 1 cup diced carrot (2 medium/small)
  • 1 ½ cups thinly sliced/chopped peeled kohlrabi*
  • 1 ½ cup corn kernels
  • squash blossom bulbs (see photos, below)**
  • ½ tsp dried marjoram
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1/3 cup tight packed chopped Asian basil
  • 6 cups clam broth
  • 10 oz small sliced potato (2 cups)
  • 1 cup half & half
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 cup chopped lobster
  • 1/2 cup chopped clams
  • 12 squash blossoms, torn – stamen removed (bulb added above)**
  • 1-2 oz Asian spinach,  torn

** How to prepare squash blossoms:

blossom with stamen
Squash blossom with stamen still intact. Note: for some recipes, you should leave the blossom intact when removing the stamen.
Stamen removed
Before tearing each blossom into 3 or so pieces, removed the bulb at the bottom and add the bulbs to the soup in with the kohlrabi and corn.

Melt the butter over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed pot and saute the onions, celery and carrots for a few minutes.  Stir in the kohlrabi slices*, corn kernels, and blossom bulbs, then add the marjoram, parsley, and Asian basil.

Before the broth is added.

Before the broth is added.

  • *A note about the kohlrabi:  This is my first time cooking with kohlrabi and, even as I write this, I have yet to look up how to prepare them.  Since it seemed to me that the outer part seems it could be a bit tough, I trimmed off the outside before slicing up.  But, I’d do as you prefer as to the outer skin on or off.

Next, stir and cook the veggies for few more minutes, then add the clam broth and bring to a strong simmer.  Add the potato slices, half & half, and black pepper.


Just the potatoes. I had a few leftover small red and yellow ones, so I used them up!

Let the chowder simmer on low for about 10 minutes to cook the potatoes and further meld flavors.  Just FYI – it was delicious even at this stage!  This would be fine to serve as is or with just additional veggies.

Once the potatoes are cooked through,  add the chopped lobster and clams.  A Note about chopping the clams.  First, they sure are NOT pretty!

chopped clam

Be sure not to cut through the belly! The rest of each clam can be chopped into as big or small pieces as desired.

Stir the chowder and let sit on very low for 5-10 minutes to do more of that flavor melding, then bring to almost a simmer and stir in the squash blossoms and Asian spinach.

Asian spinach, just rinsed, but before being torn.

Adding the blossoms and greens.

To end, let the chowder sit for 5 or so minutes over very low heat to wilt the spinach and blossoms, then serve and enjoy!

Ready to serve!

This was truly a wonderful chowder!  I served it with some multigrain bread and it made for quite the satisfying meal. And, that lobster and clam feast was the gift that kept on going, since we had this chowder on Steve’s actual birthday. 🙂

I bet you could use this recipe as a basis for a vegetarian corn and potato chowder. I would use a corn-based vegetable stock (just make it yourself by simmering leftover corn cobs, carrots, parsley and celery, etc.), unsweetened soy milk, saute with oil, and leave out the seafood.  What made this chowder so special was, I think, the combination of a light touch of marjoram and basil, the Asian spinach and, especially, the unique flavor of the squash blossoms.  You might also want to add something else – a touch of flour to thicken and maybe use part almond milk to give a touch of a buttery flavor…  Hmmm…..You know, some chunks of nicely ripe heirloom tomatoes would be a nice touch, too.

For those who eat dairy and seafood, feel free to ad lib with other veggies and seafoods!  As I pointed out to Steve when when I told him I was not going to use a specific recipe, I suspect all soups, stews, and chowders originated as a way to either use up or stretch what was on hand, with the fancy recipes and techniques coming later.

In any case – just have fun.  A little thought about how flavors might go together and some experimenting might result in the next favorite family, or even famous, recipe.

Oh, I of course must mention that the Asian basil, Asian spinach, green onions, and squash blossoms were from Flats Mentor Farm, the kohlrabi from Farmer Dave, and the corn from Kelly’s Farm – all available at the Wakefield Farmers Market.  Shop local and most important: Support your local farmers!

Harvest Pork Stew

I bought a lovely butternut squash from Farmer Dave at the Wakefield Farmer’s Market and, while I love butternut squash any which way – roasted, smashed, in a pie, etc., I was in the mood to try a new recipe.  So, I searched around the Internet and found a recipe featuring butternut squash called Harvest Pork Stew.

I hit the jackpot.

This is really good, really easy to make, and can be done in an hour or so before dinnertime, or be started off early to cook in a crockpot.  In addition, since it also calls for apples, onions, potatoes and carrots, it provides the perfect opportunity to highlight all kinds of  fresh fall produce. With the flavors of sage, rosemary, and bay leaves topping it off – this makes for a perfect meal for an autumn evening.  For the perfect complementary dessert, try my simple but delicious Apple Crisp recipe.

I pretty much followed the recipe I found on verbatim. Here it is with any of my changes or clarifications in brackets. [ ]

To prepare from fresh squash, see How to EASILY Peel Raw Butternut Squash!

•    2 tablespoons butter or oil
•    1 1/2 pounds boneless pork, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
•    2 cloves garlic, minced
•    1 medium onion, chopped
•    3 cups chicken broth
•    1/2 teaspoon salt
•    1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed [I doubled this amount]
•    1/4 teaspoon rubbed sage [I used two fresh leaves]
•    1 bay leaf
•    3 cups frozen, cubed butternut squash   [I used a bit more of fresh squash]
•    2 MacIntosh apples, cored and cubed  [I used 1 1/2 big Macs]
•    2 large potatoes, peeled and cubed (optional)   [I used two medium potatoes]
•   2 cups carrots, peeled and diced (optional)   [I only used two small carrots]
•   [I also added ground  black pepper to taste, maybe 1/2 teaspoon]

1) Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pork and cook until lightly browned on all sides. Stir in the garlic and onion, and continue to cook until the onion has softened, and the pork is firm, and no longer pink, about 5 minutes.

Onion and garlic just added to lightly browned pork, with pork still a bit pink.

Pork, with onion and garlic cooked until just tender

2) Place the pork and onions into a large saucepan. Pour in the chicken broth, and season with salt, rosemary, sage, and the bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.

Instead of dried, I minced two fresh sage leaves and crushed dried rosemary in my suribachi to make 1/2 a teaspoon.

Ready for the first 20 minute simmer

3)  Stir in the butternut squash, apples, potatoes, and carrots. Return to a simmer, then cook, uncovered until the squash and apples are tender, about 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and serve.

Three HEAPING cups of cubed squash. The rest went into the fridge.

Two HEAPING cups of cubed apple. I saved the rest for later.

Two HEAPING cups of potato

Just a cup of diced carrots

Ready for the last 20 minute simmer

Slow Cooker Method – I have not tried this, but I bet it is just as good!
Lightly brown the pork in the butter or oil and cook until firm and opaque. Add to the slow cooker along with remaining ingredients. Cook on High for 1 hour, then reduce heat to Low and simmer 4 hours, or until tender.

This recipe was truly a winner.  Steve and I both loved it, it stretched the meat, and was full of tasty and nutritious vegetables.   Next I am going to try it with chicken.  And, I bet the slow cook method would be good with beef.  Post a message if you try the chicken or beef before I do!

Update – If you are in a big hurry, buy the peeled squash halves at the grocery store.  The folks at America’s Test Kitchens recommend such in a pinch, but they do NOT recommend the peeled and cut up product.  However, from a local market that does it themselves, such as Wakefield MA’s Farmland, it is a totally acceptable choice, in my opinion.  🙂