CHEF JEFF: Spelling comfort with S-O-U-PHow do you spell comfort on a cold winter day? I’ll bet you would get a lot of answers to this question. But in my opinion, if it’s not S-O-U-P, you’re missing out on the ultimate winter comfort food.
How do you spell comfort on a cold winter day?
I’ll bet you would get a lot of answers to this question.
On the other hand, there would be many people who might reply in a like manner with responses for comfort classics such as meatloaf, mac ’n’ cheese, mashed potatoes, lasagna, chili or pizza.
But in my opinion, if it’s not S-O-U-P, you’re missing out on the ultimate winter comfort food. (Actually, in my case, you probably could add stew, since some of my soups are thicker than most soups.)
And with winter hitting hard this past weekend — remember Blizzard Aaron, with its snow, 40 to 50 mph winds and accompanying below-zero wind chills — you don’t have to guess about how I responded.
On Sunday, I threw together one of my favorites, Czechoslovakian Cabbage Soup. An added shot of Tabasco made it just right after an afternoon walk with my dog, Sweetie.
The recipe for that soup, which I found almost 20 years ago in a Country magazine, has never let me down on even the coldest of days. I remember an ice-fishing adventure on Lake of the Woods in the mid-’90s, when the temperature approached 20 below zero and the soup took the chill off like nothing else could.
Another reason I like the cabbage-kraut soup so much is that like other broth-based soups, it’s not calorie- and fat-laden yet it fills me up and keeps me satisfied longer.
And this time of the year, when dipping temperatures make me hungrier and outdoor activities are somewhat limited, it’s easy to put on a couple of extra pounds if you’re not careful.
Another soup that I like when the winter weather turns nasty is one that features black beans and smoked sausage or bologna. It’s a recipe that wouldn’t be out of place with the participants in the annual Bologna Cook-Off and Benefit for the Minto (N.D.) Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, which starts at 7 p.m. Friday in the Minto Community Center. For info, call Chris Misialek, at (701) 248-3978.
Healthy soup tips
If the cold weather has you considering making a pot of soup, here are a few tips:
• Don’t pour water from cooking vegetables down the sink: There are vitamins in there. Save the water in the refrigerator or freezer, adding any leftover vegetables after the meal. At the end of the week, use the water and the vegetables to start a batch of soup.
• Freeze the liquids from canned mushrooms or vegetables; use it in soups or stews later.
• For richer soup stock from beef or pork bones, roast them first. Trim meat off to use in the soup, leaving meaty bones. Chop bones in chunks, using a mallet and cleaver if necessary. Place in a roasting pan with any vegetables, such as carrots and onions, and cook in a 400-degree oven for 30 to 45 minutes, until well-browned. Place bones and roasted vegetables in soup pot, cover with water and cook slowly for several hours. If there are any juices in the roasting pan, defat them and use them, too.
• For flavorful vegetable soup, use tomato juice or vegetable juice cocktail instead of water.
• Don’t oversalt. Many canned broths are high in salt, so taste them before adding more. And saltiness can concentrate as soups cook down, so wait until the end of cooking time to add salt.
• If your hot soup ends up slightly salty, add a whole, peeled potato to the soup and simmer for about 15 minutes to absorb salt. Remove the potato and serve.
• Eliminate fat from soup by dropping ice cubes into the pot. As you stir, the fat will cling to the cubes.
• Soups should only simmer (never boil) when cooking.
• To remove excessive salt from soup, drop in a sliced raw potato.
• To thicken your soup, take some of the cooked vegetables out of the soup and puree in the blender. Then, return to the original soup mixture.
• Vegetables added to a soup taste better if you saute them first.
• Soups and stews always taste better if made a day or two in advance and reheated just before serving.
On last thing: Don’t forget, it’s National Soup Month.
Tiedeman is the food editor at the Herald. Reach him at (701) 780-1136 or toll-free at (800) 477-6572, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.