Thursday, January 29, 2009
Posted by Kate at 1:25 PM
As winter wears on it's getting harder to cobble together dishes that I can justly call harvest meals. But I manage it, more or less, sometimes. Here's one example. This is a hearty soup made with our frozen but homegrown Tuscan kale, a few leeks I literally chopped out of the frozen ground during a brief period of above-freezing temperatures, my homemade lamb stock, a little homegrown garlic stored as garlic butter, and purchased ingredients including some pearl barley, carrots, fresh oregano, and local, pastured bacon.
My method for this soup was a little more fussy than I would normally bother with. I steamed the pearl barley because I was in a hurry. I figured I could start it steaming before I did anything else so that the soup would be nearly finished by the time I had all the vegetables chopped and cooked. It worked out pretty well, even if it did involve more things to clean than is normally necessary when making soup.
After the pearl barley was in the steamer, I cut three slices of smoked bacon into small strips and melted a good hunk of garlic butter in the soup pot. When the butter was melted and the garlic was sizzling I added the bacon strips to brown up over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, I cleaned and trimmed the leeks, and finely chopped them, then peeled a few carrots and chopped those as well. When the bacon had begun to crisp up, I added the leeks to saute for a few minutes. When they were well softened, I added a quart of my double-strength lamb stock, an equal amount of water, and a vegan bouillon cube (for extra flavor), and brought the liquid to a low boil. The chopped carrots, a generous amount of our frozen, pre-chopped Tuscan kale, and a few sprigs of fresh oregano were added. I seasoned with bay leaf, salt and pepper and reduced the heat to a steady but low simmer. I let that cook until the carrots were no longer hard and raw, and then added the steamed barley, which was nearly fully cooked. I let it go a few more minutes to finish off the barley. When ready to serve, I fished out the bay leaf and the stems of oregano, which had released their leaves into the soup.
The soup was good the first day, drizzled with a garnish of olive oil. Very hearty, nourishing, and warming. But like many soups, the leftovers have definitely improved in flavor as they sat around for a few days. I especially like the chewy goodness of the barley, and the meaty quality of the soup that comes from very little meat.
What soups are keeping you warm these days?