Kitchen Sink Stew

October 11, 2010 § 1 Comment

With subtle hints of autumn floating through my open windows, with cool winds swirling through the rest of the Lower-48, and frosty gales sweeping through the northern-most countrysides (it’s 24 degrees at my aunt’s house in Alaska!), it seems appropriate to post a hearty, comforting, chalk-full-of-good-stuff fennel-tomato-squash-peas-beans-everything-but-the-kitchen-sink-stew.  This recipe is tweaked from Saveur.  While the majority of the recipe follows standard soup guidelines — saute vegetables in shifts, add water and seasonings, boil, simmer, re-season — the beginning of this recipe is slightly different:

Instead of sauteing an onion with soup aromatics, we pulverize the onion along with garlic, a little olive oil and a handful of herbs and then saute in an un-seasoned pot (no olive oil glug at the bottom) until all the water evaporates — all this before adding the next shift of vegetables.  This technique creates a thicker broth and richer flavor.  This soup is marvelously flexible.  If you don’t have butternut squash, cubed sweet potatoes make an excellent replacement.  Add a few cups of cheesy tortellini to the mixture; try cannelini beans instead of garbanzos for a creamier texture.

Start-to-finish, this soup can be ready in a half hour.  However, I recommend prepping this soup at least 12 hours before serving (overnight is ideal).  Let the pot hang-out, untouched, on the back-burner after it’s cooked, allowing the flavors to meld.  When it comes time to eat, reheat, doll out ladles of stew into separate bowls and sprinkle a generous amount of fresh Parmesan cheese on top.  Very good paired with crusty sourdough bread, dredged in butter and roasted garlic.

One final note: I prefer the taste of roasted butternut squash over boiled.  Prior to making soups that feature butternut or acorn squash, I often roast the squash chunks in olive oil and sage leaves and then add the cooked squash to the stew toward the end of the cooking process.  However, if you’d prefer to forgo that step — and it will still taste marvelous if you do — skip the roasting and add the raw squash when adding carrots and fennel.

Ingredients:
2 cups cubed butternut squash
olive oil, sea salt, pepper
8-12 sage leaves

1 yellow onion, large
4 cloves garlic
1/2 cup basil, loosely packed
1 tablespoon + olive oil

5-6 medium carrots, chopped
2 heads fennel, sliced
1 + 1/2 cups whole plum tomatoes + juice, roughly chopped
2 cups garbanzo beans, cooked*
1 cup peas, fresh or frozen and thawed
few handfuls spinach or arugula, optional
Parmesan cheese rind
1 -2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
sea salt, pepper

Parmesan cheese, grated, for topping

*For those following a strict SCD diet: Swap garbanzo beans with dry white beans, lentils or black beans after 1+ month symptom-free.  Soak dry beans 24 hours before cooking to remove excess starches.

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss cubed butternut squash with a coating of olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt, pepper and sage leaves.  Roast for 20 minutes, until softened.  (You can do this the night before or day-of.)

2.  In a Cuisinart or blender, pulverize onion, garlic, basil and 1 tablespoon + of olive oil.  When the onion reaches the consistency of a slightly-chunky, translucent chutney, stop blending.  In a large pot, pour onion mixture and heat on medium high until all water evaporates (approximately 5 minutes).

3.  Meanwhile, chop carrots and fennel.  (If you choose to forgo roasting the butternut squash, chop squash now.)  Add carrots and fennel (squash, optional) to pot when onions begin to turn brown.  If the bottom of the pot looks a little dry, add a few drips of olive oil or a splash of water. Saute until slightly-crisp, about 7-8 minutes.

4.  Add 4 cups of water, plum tomatoes and juice and 2 cups cooked garbanzo beans.  Add Parmesan rind and simmer for 15-20 minutes.  When carrots and fennel are al dente, add peas, roasted squash and a few handfuls of spinach or arugula to the pot and stir.  Add 1-2 teaspoons red wine vinegar, sea salt and pepper to taste.  Cook 1-2 minutes and remove from heat.  Let sit, preferably for 12+ hours, lid on.  Before serving, reheat and remove Parmesan cheese rind.  Garnish each bowl with a generous handful of fresh, grated Parmesan cheese.

Diet Notes: Gluten-free, nut-free, SCD-safe (see asterisk)

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