This is a chunky soup. It’s full of good vegetables and morsels of meat and like all good soups, it’s adaptable. Use what you have on hand, but today’s version worked out so well, The Goddess, being the benevolent deity that she is, decided to share, because the weather could turn at any moment! There’s something about soup, when the snow is flying and the world is unfriendly, that’s so comforting and good. It’s soul-warming. It’s an essential experience. This soup fits that bill perfectly. I must admit, that the Miami weather doesn’t howl with bone-chilling cold, but do buckets and buckets of rain count? Me thinks it does. This is a cold rain, okay?
Don’t you just adore parsnips? You know you do, or you simply haven’t tried them yet. So, this is a great way to introduce yourself to them. Here they are getting waaayyy too friendly with the kielbasa. They are truly spectacular when roasted (with garlic, of course), but that’s another post entirely! Parsnips add a delightful sweet nuance to soups and stews, think deliciousness on steroids!
I love the “Cruciferous Crunch” from Trader Joe’s. I usually sauté it with some garlic until it just barely wilts, then drizzle it with maple syrup before it’s served. But, I though it would be perfect for this soup, too. However, today TJ’s was out…bummer! This does happen with Trader Joe’s, but it gives one the opportunity to be flexible, think outside the box, so I added spinach. Okay, so spinach isn’t exactly an earth-shatteringly, transformative choice, but it worked and it was a nice addition. Because you’re more creative than I am, you might opt for kale (if you absolutely must!!!), chard, bok choy, Chinese cabbage or just plain old, regular cabbage.
While we really did enjoy this mixture, enough so I thought you should have this recipe, you could and should use what you have on hand in the cupboard, fridge or freezer. Use beef short ribs, instead of the pork and kielbasa, if that’s what you have and feel like eating. Leftover meat or chicken, ham, fried bacon will also work. Or leave the meat out entirely and eat the soup as is or place a poached egg on each serving. You may add diced carrots(s) with the parsnips. Or potatoes or canned butter or cannellini beans with the green beans. Leftover rice can be stirred in near the end of cooking or very small pasta (orzo) the last 4-5 minutes of cooking. If you’re feeling like pearled barley, add after the pork cubes have simmered for about 5 minutes; the barley should cook about 20 minutes total. And add some frozen corn or peas, if you wish. So, you see, this is a very adaptable recipe.
- 1 tablespoon bacon fat or oil
- 2 boneless pork shoulder strips (about 1/2 lb)
- 6-inch piece kielbasa, diced
- 2 parsnips, peeled and diced
- 1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms
- 1 1/2 cups sliced leeks (frozen from Trader Joe’s)
- 2 celery ribs, diced
- 6 cups water or broth
- 2 large bay leaves
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
- 6-8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic granules
- 1-2 teaspoons South Shore Seasoning (or Old Bay), divided
- 1 cup sliced green beans
- 2-4 cups chopped Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale or spinach (see NOTE)
- Bleu cheese, crumbled (for garnish)
In a good-sized soup pot, with a heavy bottom, heat the fat over medium heat. Add the 2 pieces of pork; do not move them for at least 2 minutes. You want then to brown; turn and brown on the second side, about 3-4 minutes total. Remove to a plate; set aside. Remove all of the fat, but 1 tablespoon. Add the diced kielbasa and parsnips; sauté for 2-3 minutes or until the parsnips begin to brown. Add the mushrooms; cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the leeks, celery and bay leaves. Cook, stirring very occasionally, for about 3-4 minutes.
Cut the pork into 1/2-inch cubes; stir into the mixture. Add the water (or broth), the bay leaves, thyme, garlic, garlic granules and 1/2 teaspoon of the South Shore Seasoning (you’ll add the remainder later). Stir and lower the heat, cover and cook for about 15-20 minutes or until the pork cubes are tender. Stir in the green beans and chopped cabbage. Simmer for 5-10 minutes. Add the remaining South Shore Seasoning; taste and correct the seasoning as desired. Serve hot, with good bread and a glass of red wine.
NOTE: Cruciferous Crunch is a shredded blend of kale, Brussels sprouts, cabbages, and broccoli, that is sometimes available at Trader Joe’s. TJ’s also sells frozen leeks, which are wonderful to have in the freezer for just such things as this. At $2.99 they are a steal! And remember, this soup is a great way to use up leftovers or the things that lurk in the fridge.
Before-the-Storm Soup Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2016. All rights reserved.[/title]
One last thing before The Goddess trots off to go apartment hunting, brown the pork (or whatever hunk of meat you’re using) before you cube it. It’s easier to get a good sear on the outside and remember to check your OCD at the door and just leave that meat alone when it hits the pan. Don’t touch it!!! And remember to let meat rest before you cut or cube it up. See how there isn’t much “juice” on the chopping board? That’s because the meat took a little snooze before cubing.
As you know, The Goddess prays at the altar of bleu cheese. So, as an afterthought she added a few little crumbles on top of her bowl. It was one of her better thoughts! A slice of good bread toasted would be perfect. She had a matzoh crackers; it was good, but the toast would have been better. Her soul is warm! Bring on the weather!