Sausage and Potato Soup

This is the epitome of a seasonal dish, and a real “pantry-buster”.  A traditional homestead would have veggies in the root cellar such as potatoes, onions, garlic, carrots, celery, etc. and cured and smoked meats such as ham and sausage.  So this dish is easy to put together.  Even if you don’t have some or all of the items, because they are seasonal, they are generally less expensive at the grocery.

wpid-img_20150204_094255815.jpgThe ingredients for this dish are simple, adjust amounts for how large a batch you’d like to make. Use potatoes, carrots, celery, onions, garlic and your favorite sausage. Peas and/or corn are good additions, as well. Use whatever you have. You may notice by now potatoes, garlic, etc., are looking a bit wilty. This is a sign it is time to use them up! These veggies are fine to use as long as they retain their fresh normal smell. Cut open your potatoes to be sure there are no spots in the middle.  Peel all the vegetables and cut into fairly uniform sized pieces.

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I like to cook this soup in stages. First, I like to cook the sausages, uncut. “Fry” them in the pot with just a touch of oil. This lets them develop their flavor to the fullest, the skins sealing in all the juices.  Once the sausage is sizzling and weeping, add the cut veggies and gently pour in just enough water to cover.  Or you can use any stock you may have saved.

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Cover and gently simmer the soup for at least an hour, until the vegetables sink, indicating they are fully cooked.  At this point, pull the sausages and slice them into bite-sized pieces. Return them to the pot, add a couple cups more liquid and return to simmer.

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Now you can decide if you want to make this soup creamy or brothy.  Either way, it’s time to add the rue.  Rue is the secret to thickening sauces and soups without lumps.  Rue is simply a paste formed from a mixture of lot liquid and flour.  Pull about a cup of HOT liquid from the soup into a smaller bowl or measuring cup. Stir in about 1/4 c flour, more depending on how big your batch of soup is.  Thoroughly combine the liquid and flour to form a thick paste. Then re-introduce the rue to the soup, stirring constantly until the rue disappears into the soup.  To reach full thickening potential, the soup must now be brought to a boil, stirring frequently to prevent burning.  It need only boil shortly to activate the rue.  Then let it back off and reduce to simmer. The soup should now fill about half your pot and be about twice as thick as you expect the finished product.  If it is not thick enough, repeat the process of pulling liquid and combining with flour, measuring by Tablespoons, until the desired thickness is reached.

From here, if a creamy soup is desired, it is time to add milk, cream or a mixture of the two.  If a brothy soup is desired, add more water or stock, filling the pot.  Simmer another hour, stirring occasionally, to marry all the flavors, and then the soup is ready to serve.

Follow these guidelines and be inspired by whatever you have in your pantry or root cellar to create a wonderful soup or stew to ward off the Winter chill.

To learn more about the energy-free tradition of root cellaring, I recommend this book, Root Cellaring by Nancy and Mike Bubel.

 

New TV Show Local Flavor

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I am excited to be working on a new TV show, Local Flavor.  This half-hour weekly program will show viewers how to find foods grown local to them when fresh in season, and great ways to save them for later when they’re not.  Each week I will take viewers to a different farm or producer and find an item in season for that time of year.  Then we will go back to the kitchen and show folks how to cook and preserve that week’s item.

The idea for the show arose from my past 15 years experience selling at farmers’ markets, interacting with people from all walks of life, all with one thing in common:  Finding clean, fresh, healthy foods for their families, and an appreciation for the better quality of foods grow right nearby. But changes within our culture and homes over the past 40 years have left a number of young homemakers these days lacking in some basic cooking and efficient and creative food preparation skills.  My show will teach these cooking skills, demonstrating fun and easy ways to bring delicious meals to their tables, with local foods or any foods, wherever one lives.

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Eating foods local to your region means eating seasonally, and to keep an interesting and diverse diet year-round, you want preserve your favorite items when they’re fresh and abundant.  Canning, drying and freezing foods was at once a dying art, but thanks to this renewed interest in seasonal eating, people across the country are reviving age-old methods of preserving food.  My show will add to this resurgence by demonstrating different methods of “putting food by”.

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Over the past 15 years, I have also enjoyed a number media appearances: my local newspaper, TV news, even radio and a TV commercial.  I seem to attract the camera, while other people flee from it.  So why not make a TV show?

See me in action in this You tube video;

www.youtube.com/watch?v=9GRxN_sDAog

Copy and paste this link to your browser to hear a recording of my WSKG Public Radio segment http://www.wskg.org/episode/local-food-system-farmers-and-farmers-markets

We have begun production on the first episode, set to launch in February.  Like our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/localflavorshow or follow us on Twitter @Localflavorshow to keep up with our progress and catch announcements of where and when to watch.

We will have a viewer question segment on each show, so submit your queries about local, seasonal cooking and preserving.  And stay tuned!

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