The Gastronomist Manifesto

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Archive for the category “Soup”

Bigos: My Easter Tradition

Well, technically, bigos was a tradition at my holidays on my Polish side. This year I just needed that comfort of home, so I whipped up a huge batch of it today for Easter.

After Mass I came home and started right into the preparations. I was so excited that I forgot to make any notes about quantity or time with the ingredients! Well, that’s going to make for a shitty recipe. But nonetheless I am going to at least explain the process. Bigos is one of those things that has almost unlimited variations. Technically, it is a soup made with a variety of meats and cabbage/sauerkraut. Legend is Polish hunters would make this and throw whatever they caught/killed/carried while on hunting trips. They would just keep the stew on a low simmer and continually add to it, which leads to another trait–very long cooking time.

For meats, I used pork shoulder, kielbasa and beef (beef is uncommon, but worked with my budget.) Pork belly, bacon, veal are more traditional inclusions. They were given a quick browning (not to cook!) and added to a pot with sauteeing onion, lots of sauerkraut and seasonings: garlic powder, caraway seed, juniper berries and bay leaves. Immediately the heat went down to low, a dull simmer, with 60-40 chicken broth and apple juice, plus a can of tomato paste.

Then comes the Herculean effort to just let it sit. After a few hours of low simmer I added sliced kielbasa. Another hour I added sliced mushrooms. Over-all I let it go for over six hours, and it’s still simmering now, seven hours later.  But the wait is worth it…



NOTE: I used a large wok-like pan to make mine. That is not a good way. Use a large soup pot or a slow cooker. But to my horror this morning that was all I had that was large enough so I had to make do.



Weatherbeaten: Sunshine Soup

It’s known to rain in Portland, Oregon. A lot, perhaps. Today I got caught in what is probably the worst torrential I’ve seen in my 1+ year here. A metal “Park Here” sign, with about two feet long feet holding it up, was blown half the way across the street. My umbrella is broken, the metal of the stem snapped right at the base of the parasol–I mean bent and then ripped open. Figuring I know have pneumonia I better start the hot soup and tea fast.

Sunshine Soup

1 golden beet, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1/2 an onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/3 cup of green peas
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon of curry powder
1 teaspoon of ginger powder
1 dash of cinnamon
water (see below for amount)

1. Prepare all your vegetables ahead and have them ready except for the peas. In a pot on low-med heat add oil or melt butter to gently coat the bottom. Add the onions, garlic and carrot. Cook for about 8 minutes, lowering the heat if browning starts to occur. Next add the beet, and stir for two more minutes.

2. Pour in water, enough to just submerge everything, and turn the heat to high. At this point you can add all the seasonings right in, plus honey and lemon. When the water comes to a boil, lower it to a simmering temperature.

3. After about 30 minutes you can start testing pieces of beet for doneness (just pull one out, blow on it and bite.) Continue cooking until the vegetables are soft and tender. Then add the peas and continue cooking until they are done as well.

4. The soup is done, but an optional step is to use a thickener, which I did. I pulled the soup off the heat until it was steaming but off boiling temperature. I think started sprinkling a little bit of one tablespoon of flour off the edge of the spoon in a thin layer, then stirring quickly; repeating slowly until all the flour is in. If you just dump the flour in, or do when there is a boil, it will just thicken into lumps.

Pretty easy recipe to make. And the bloody irony of it all is, as you can see by the picture, by the time it was done the sun was shining. Damn you! Weather gods!

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