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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Food: Winter Recipes for Sandy

And anyone else who wants to use them. These recipes are perfect for cold weather. They're also good for people who have diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels, or just people who want to eat healthy, nutritious, tasty food. They're relatively low in meat and high in fiber.

Chicken Vegetable Stew

This stew can be frozen. You can freeze the broth separately from the chicken and veges, or freeze it together.

2 stewing hens, quartered 4 stalks celery
2 parsnips 4 cloves garlic
4 sprigs dill 10 cups water
2 onions 4 carrots
1 lg tomato4 sprigs parsley
4 whole clovessalt and pepper to taste

Omit the salt, if you prefer. I don't add any, although I sometimes substitute a dash of fish sauce.

Stewing hens (older hens) have much more flavour. They're usually also cheaper. You can have your butcher cut them into quarters, or, if you're good with poultry, you can do it yourself. Wash the chicken, remove any large pieces of fat, and set aside.

Peel and halve the onions, if you plan to use them in the final stew. If you plan to discard the vegetables used for making broth, do not peel the onions, just cut them in half lengthwise. Cut the celery, parsnips, tomato, and carrots in large chunks. Place the vegetables in a large pot (you might need two pots) with the chicken, cover with water, and bring to a boil. If the water does not cover the chicken, add more. Reduce the heat and simmer partially covered for about an hour, skimming off any foam. Simmer uncovered for another hour. If the water level drops at any time, add more water so that the chicken remains covered.

This soup is good to make when you have chores to do around the house. Once it comes to a boil, you reduce the heat, set a one-hour timer (your microwave oven should have one) and do your chores. When the timer goes off, remove the lid from the soup, give it a stir, set another one-hour timer and go back to your chores.

Turn off the heat and remove the chicken from the soup pot(s). Set it aside to cool on a plate or in a bowl. When cool, remove and discard the chicken skin and shred the meat. Discard any bones or save them to reuse for stock. When the soup has cooled, strain it and discard or set aside the vegetables. Skim off fat. You might want to refrigerate the soup briefly to cool it enough for the fat to separate, or use a fat skimmer if you have one.

I put the cooked vegetables back into the pot. You can discard them if you wish, or add them to another stew or refrigerate them for future use. Now prep and add the following vegetables to the chicken broth. If you prefer, you can freeze half the broth for later use and add only half the quantity of vegetables shown.


4 carrots 4 parsnips
4 stalks celery 2 lg leeks
1 bunch parsley Remaining dill
2 cups pasta or rice 2 lemons

Cut carrots and celery into 1-inch pieces. Cut parsnips and leek in thick slices. Chop parsley and dill. Juice and zest the lemons.

Return the broth to the soup pot(s), add the rice (if using brown), raw veges and cook for approximately 45 minutes at medium heat until the veges are tender. If using white rice or pasta, add it now. White rice should cook in about 10-15 minutes. If using pasta, regulate the cooking time according to package directions. Lower the heat and stir in chopped herbs and the chicken. Taste and season as needed, adding a little lemon juice and zest for tang, and serve. Keeps frozen for approximately 2 weeks.

To make this soup deliciously reusable, save in individual-portion containers. When you reheat it, add fresh chopped herbs, or lemon juice, or zest, or a pinch or two of crushed red chilli flakes for a little zing.

Ham and Vegetable Soup


1/4 lb salt pork 1 small smoked ham hock
2 Tbsp olive oil 4 cloves garlic
2 lg onion 2 green bell pepper
4 ribs celery 2 red bell peppers
1 cup barley 1 cup green split peas
1 tsp dried thyme 3-4 lb winter vegetables
4 cups chicken broth 2 boiling potatoes (~3/4 lb)
~2 Tbsp red-wine vinegar 1 cup scallion for garnish

Freshen the salt pork by covering it with cold water and simmering gently for about 5 minutes. Remove from stove, drain, and discard rind. Cut the pork in 1/4-inch dice.

Chop the onions, bell peppers, and celery finely. Dice the potatoes. Mince the garlic and scallions.

Assemble 3-4 lb of any combination of these vegetables:

Carrots, cabbage, parsnips, turnips, broccoli, cauliflower, and kohlrabi. Chop them into bite-size pieces, saving the broccoli florets separately.

Place the salt pork in a skillet and render over medium heat until the cracklings are golden, then drain and place on paper towels. Pour off and discard most of the fat, add the oil, heat till nearly smoking, and saute the onion till fragrant, add garlic, stir for a minute, add the bell pepper and celery and stir over medium heat until the veges are soft. Add thyme and ground black pepper to taste and stir for approximately 15 seconds.

Transfer to a large soup pot. Add barley and split peas, stir to mix, add broth and the ham hock and water or broth to cover if needed, reduce heat to low and cook for about 3 hours until the barley and peas are done. Remove the ham hock from the mixture and turn off the heat. Skim off any fat. When the ham hock is cool, remove the meat and discard the skin, fat and bones. Shred the meat and set aside.

Place the soup pot on the heat at medium, add the potatoes, and stir for about 5 minutes. Add the chopped vegetables and water or broth, depending on how rich and how liquid you want the soup to be, and simmer for approximately 20 minutes at low heat or until the vegetables are tender. Add vinegar (or lemon juice) and bring to a simmer, and serve, garnished with cracklings and scallions.

This soup has a higher fat content and you might prefer to substitute pork stew meat or beef stew and leave out the salt pork altogether. For a richer soup, substitute broth for water. If using stew meat, cut bite-size, removing as much fat as possible, and add it after the barley and peas have cooked. Let cook for about ten to 20 minutes at a simmer before adding the vegetables. Reduce the amount of liquid for a very thick stew.

This soup usually gets devoured too quickly to experiment with freezing. It's great for cold weather. If you want to freeze it, reserve the cabbage, broccoli florets, and scallions in separate containers in the refrigerator and add them when heating individual portions of soup.

Split Pea Soup

This soup freezes well.


3 cups green split peas 3 onions
5 garlic cloves 6 lg carrots
6 celery stalks 2 Tbsp olive oil
15 cups water or chicken broth 2 meaty ham hocks
2 bay leaves 1 tsp thyme
salt and pepper to taste 2 tsp crushed red chilli pepper

Dice the onions. Crush the garlic. Peel and dice the carrots. Slice the celery, including the leaves. Rinse and drain the split peas.

In a flat skillet, heat the oil at medium and saute the bay leaves for a few seconds, add the onions till fragrant, add the garlic and stir till it is brown in spots and the onions are dark golden, add celery, stir, add carrots and saute until lightly browned.

Transfer to one or more soup pots, scraping up any browned bits. Add peas and water and ham hocks, and bring to a boil. Skim off any scum on top. Reduce heat to low and simmer for approximately 3 hrs.

Remove ham hocks, let cool, strip off meat and discard fat and bone. Shred meat and return to soup. Add thyme and pepper to taste, and simmer for approximately one hour, stirring to keep from sticking.

Remove bay leaves and serve.

Steak Soup

This soup can also be frozen in individual serving containers.


1 lb beef steak or stew meat 2 large onions
4 large carrots 5 celery stalks
2 lbs fresh or canned tomatoes 3 qts beef stock
2 small winter or kabocha squash 2 sweet potatoes
2 cups dried red kidney beans 2 green bell peppers
2-6 jalapenos 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste 2-4 large cloves garlic
4 black peppercorns 2 bay leaves
4 cloves

Soak beans overnight, or at least 5 hours, in plenty of cold water. Chop all the vegetables (except peppers and celery) bite-sized. Wash the beans, cover with 8 cups of cold water, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for at least 2 hours or until tender, adding warm water if needed. Mince the garlic, celery, and bell peppers. If using jalapenos, wash and slit lengthwise up to the stalk. Do not slice all the way through. Place cloves, slightly crushed peppercorns, and bay leaves in a cheesecloth or muslin bag and tie tightly. Slice meat into small bite-sized pieces.

Heat oil at medium heat, add onion, stir till golden and fragrant, add garlic, stir for a minute, add celery, and peppers and stir till softened and slightly browned, add remaining veges (except tomatoes), stir till partly cooked, add meat, stir to mix, then add stock, dry spices, and tomatoes and cook covered, for about 30 minutes at a simmer. Add beans and their liquid, stir, and simmer for a further 30 minutes or until all the vegetables are thoroughly cooked. Discard the bag of dried spices and serve hot plain or over rice and garnished with fresh herbs.

Dried beans are preferable to canned, which lose much of their nutrients in the canning process. However, red kidney beans contain a toxin and must be thoroughly leached before consumption. To leach the toxin, soak them for at least 5 hours in plenty of cold water, wash them in running water and cook in fresh cold water to cover for at least two hours.

To increase the digestibility of any pea, bean, or legume, add a pinch or two of epazote, a Mexican herb, to the soup.

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At 7:29 PM, Blogger ThePoliticalCat said...

Hi, Sandy, I hope your landline is back up and you're staying warm and dry. Some unknown Javascript error from blogger is causing formatting problems. I guess I should put up PDF files so you can print them without the weird formatting problems. I've been working on this post for two days now but can't seem to debug and fix the problem. Let me know if you want PDF files, I'll post them. Bon appetit!

At 9:36 AM, Blogger zoe said...

Thanks for the recipies!!!! Perfect for the cold rainy weather. I still make your stir fry recipies!!!

At 12:20 PM, Blogger ThePoliticalCat said...

Zoe, if you want a PDF (easier to print), just let me know!

At 8:59 AM, Blogger Sandy-LA 90034 said...

Wow! Wow! Wow! Thanks so much for your efforts, Political Cat!

If PDF is easier to print, I'd be grateful for that.

One of my friends showed me how to make delicious fajitas last Friday night. I duplicated them on my own for another friend on Monday. We're starting to get together as often as possible and I'll enjoy trying these recipes out on my friends.

Thanks so much!

At 9:16 AM, Blogger ThePoliticalCat said...

Hi, Sandy, always good to see you! Hope you're staying warm and dry (rain and snow, I hear!). I'll need an email address to send the PDF files to - I don't think I can post them on the blog, but I'll try later today. Please email me directly (you'll see the email address when you click Comment, but if not, I'm at gmail dot com.

At 2:42 PM, Blogger zoe said...

Bear loved this.I left out the jalapenos and bell pepper. yummy


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