Friday, October 16, 2009

fighting back

we've lived here in colorado springs long enough to know that the weather patterns here are schizophrenic (at best) and can lull you into short sleeves one minute only to cover you in snow the next but this past week has been one of the best examples of this area's meteorological mental illness i've ever seen. we were enjoying early fall temperatures last week and bundling in thermals and stocking caps only days later. in a matter of hours, we went from clear skies to a two day ice storm that resulted in 282 reported traffic collisions and practically paralyzed the city. (mostly because people are fucking idiots....but that'll be another post)

when the cold has forced you into floppy socks and sweatpants mode, what better way to fight back than with a big pot of homemade soup? this one came together pretty easily, was a good way to use up an acorn squash that had been lurking on the counter, and was REALLY good. when the days are cold and dreary, try this yet-unnamed soup to warm you up. (especially if a stubborn gourd is stalking you from the corner of the the kitchen)

1 onion
2 ribs celery
2 med carrots
1 leek
3 cloves garlic
1 acorn squash
4-5 stems chard or other dark leafy green

10 oz. vegan sausage analogue (or sausage if you MUST)
2 cans white cannelini beans (drained)

2C water
2 star anise pods
2 bay leaves
8 juniper berries (if you have them)
1t dried thyme
salt and pepper
olive oil

brown crumbled sausage in olive oil in dutch oven or large pot. remove from pan.
peel, seed, chop, and blanch that creepy acorn squash. 1/2 inch cubes worked for me.
chop your mirepoix however you'd like. 1/4 inch dice worked nicely.
sweat leeks, onions, carrots, celery, and garlic in olive oil until translucent and "melted."
add berbere seasoning, star anise, bay, and thyme.
add broth, water, beans, sausage, and squash.
bring to boil, put on lid, drop to med-low for an hour.
chop chard, throw in pot, lid, simmer for another 15 mins.
remove anise pods and bay leaves.
eat warm soup with crusty bread.
grin smugly.

you could use other meats but the subtle spicy sage notes of the sausage really elevate this dish.
the anise is the real star here and it does so in the most brilliantly unobtrusive way. don't skip it.
you can add the constituent spices in the berbere seasoning in smaller amounts if you don't have it.
the juniper berries are nice but not essential.
don't be a sissy with the pepper.

happy souping,

p.s. i'm taking suggestions for names for this awesome soup :-)