If you are tired of me lamenting about winter then please refer to the title of this post. In the record breaking cold of this week I found myself wanting to be a child again so it would be ok for me to have a meltdown on the street as the wind smacked me in the face and pierced through my clothes like a hot knife through butter. I’m not going to lie I whimpered a few times as my legs turned to icicles, feeling like they could crack at anytime beneath me. The worst is when your face is so numb you can’t even feel your nose running and snot freezes in a perfect glistening teardrop under your nose.
Although people still must go through the routine of getting up and getting out the frigid temps seem to turn people into frozen zombies. The bitterness takes away any vibrancy and no emotions exist. Defending oneself against the cold requires so much energy the usually colorful streets have turned muted and it is unusual to see anyone express anger, craziness, or even happiness. Faced with frosty temperatures and emotionless faces my feelings become frozen. I find myself longing for warmth from the inside out. As you know I find solace in food, but only one dish can fulfill this kind of emptiness, stew.
First let me distinguish between soup and stew, for they are similar but not the same.
A soup is a liquid dish, typically made by boiling meat, fish, or vegetables, etc., in stock or water.
A stew is a dish of meat and vegetables cooked slowly in liquid in a closed dish or pan.
It is not hard to make soup nor stew just remember
Sear, Sauté, Add liquid, Season, Simmer
For example if making lamb stew
Sear: Lamb Shanks
Sauté: Onions, Carrots, Celery,Diced Tomato, and Herbs
Add Liquid: Lamb/Chicken Stock. For stews to barely cover for soups to cover.
Simmer: Put lamb back in and simmer four hours or more, until literally meat is falling off.
Season: Taste the stew. Does it need more salt? A touch of lemon? Fresh
While both are easy to make a stew in generally thicker, has more depth of flavor, and requires a bit more time to create. There is a difference in cooking time for stews is because want the meat to be broken down without you having to manipulate it. If you are cooking meat in your soup or stew the key is a very low simmer so the meat doesn’t get dry. The best part of these dishes is you really need no recipe. You can use any flavors or leftover veggies your heart desires as long as you follow the general principles. Below are some ideas.
|Olive and Caper Chicken Soup||
Lamb Shank Stew
|Beef and Mushroom Stew||Carrot and Ginger Soup|
|Sear||Chicken Thighs||Lamb Shanks||Beef Stew Meat||n/a|
|Sauté||Onion, potato, lemon||Onion, carrots, thyme, leeks, diced tomatoes||Onion, garlic, mushrooms, red wine, leeks||Carrots (chopped and peeled), ginger, garlic, onion|
|Add||Chicken stock||Lamb/Chicken Stock||Beef Stock||Vegetable/Chicken Stock|
|Simmer||Chicken (30 min)||Lamb (4hrs)||Beef (4hrs)||Carrots (20 min)|
|Season||Olives, capers, lemon||Lemon, thyme||Chopped Chives,||Blend until smooth, salt, coconut milk|
Make sure to taste and season with spices along the whole process. First your meat heavily before you sear it, then when you add the veggies, then when you add the broth, and again at the end. Think of soup as building layers of flavor and you want to start off with a strong foundation.
Other spice blends that can totally transform the taste of your soup:
Latin: cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, salt
Indian/North African: garam masala or ras el hanout, salt
Basic: onion powder, garlic powder, salt
Slightly Sweet: turmeric, cinnamon (small amount), salt, cumin
As a spoiled southern California girl I never could have imagined I would one day have the need for these torrid liquids. Soups and stews were too hot, took to long to eat, and I could never distinguish what was inside my dad’s mystery pot. It never failed that in my haste to eat that I would burn my tongue. As the world has weathered me (ha) I have come to truly appreciate the healing effects of a big bowl of soup or stew. Now days I find peace indoors and something about the liquid love not only tickles my tongue but also brightens my spirit.
There’s nowhere to go anyway.