JEFF TIEDEMAN: Winter warm-upNothing can beat soup when the weather turns nasty.
We’re finally starting to get a little reprieve from the cold weather — with temperatures expected to be in the teens today and in the mid- to upper-20s Thursday and Friday.
But don’t get too smug about the warm-up. We’ll be back in the deep freeze by this weekend, with single-digit highs and lows 10 to 20 below zero (and, of course, that doesn’t take into account the wind chill), which may have you envying those who live in warmer climes, are taking a ocean cruise or southern vacation.
No matter how you look at it, this is soup weather.
Bob Sullivan, a friend of mine from the gym, said Sunday that he’d recently picked up a few soup bones and was going to ask his wife, Shirley, to put on a pot of vegetable soup when he got home — complete with rutabaga, parsnips, carrots, cabbage and a little pearled barley. (Bob said it’s been hard find soup bones at the supermarket the past couple of years, so he likes to buy them whenever he can and freeze any extra ones for later use.)
The subject of soup came up after I’d mentioned this weekend’s soup cook-off (there also will be a bake sale) at the American Legion in Forest River, N.D. I’m going to be one of three judges (along with Lynette Dickson and Liz Grzadzielewski) for the event, which is a kickoff fundraiser for the town’s 125th birthday celebration in 2012.
One of the organizers, Susan Clark Paschke, said she’s hoping to have about 20 to 25 entries from both men and women, featuring a wide variety of soup and stew flavors. The public is invited to participate in the judging, which takes place from 4 to 8 p.m. People will be able to try samples by purchasing tickets for individual soups and voting for the people’s choice.
If you’re planning on throwing together your own kettle of soup, here are a few tips that might come in handy:
— Save the pasta for last — at the very end of cooking just before serving — or else you’ll have mushy noodles.
— Don’t throw away the water when you boil or blanch vegetables such as potatoes, broccoli, corn or carrots. Freeze it for later use. It makes excellent stock.
— The broth made from the necks and backbones of game birds such as pheasant and grouse beats the canned varieties because it contains little fat and no sodium.
— If you’re using canned vegetables for soup, don’t simmer them for long periods of times, since they’ll start to fall apart.
I’ve made four kinds of soup over the past week and a half. First, I made a bean and pasta one, which probably is Therese’s favorite. Besides the items named in the title, the soup also contains tomatoes, carrots, onions and cabbage, but it’s the horseradish and balsamic vinegar that puts it over the top.
Next came the soup of my choice— Czechoslovakian Cabbage — a hearty vegetable beef variation that also stars sauerkraut.
I made the third one, White Chili Soup, for a potluck at Therese’s school, Lake Agassiz Elementary. The main difference from most other white chili soup recipes is that instead of chicken, this had pheasant. (See these three recipes at ww.grandforksherald.com/event/tag/ group/ Life/tag/food/.)
That brings me to the fourth recipe, Caribbean Shrimp Soup, which can be found on this page, and contains an assortment of fruits and vegetables that are associated with the region’s cuisine.
I figure that if you can’t take a trip to a tropical paradise when the weather is nasty, at least you can pretend you’re there.
Tiedeman is food editor at the Herald. Reach him at (701) 780-1136 or toll-free at (800) 477-6572, or e-mail at email@example.com.