I know soup and beans have very little to do with gardening, but with the cooler weather, I am soup and bean obsessed. Yes, it’s warm and horribly windy in Oklahoma today, but that’s because a cold front is trying its best to shove warm Gulf air out of our fair state. The cold air will win, so tomorrow, you might become soup and bean obsessed too.
If so, you came to the right place.
Ch ch changes . . .
When our youngest daughter, Claire, moved out in August, I took a break from cooking from scratch for a few weeks. At the end of that break, I could no longer remember how to cook especially for only two people. It’s been a learning curve not to make too much food.
I felt like I lost my cooking mojo, and since cooking is a huge part of my creative process, I knew I couldn’t let that happen.
First, about those chicken and dumplings.
I can’t believe I’ve never shared my Grandmother’s recipe on the blog, but this lady’s dumplings are similar. Just use one of the gluten-free flour mixes to make the dough and keep in mind you may need more or less liquid depending on how dry your flour is. Also, try to pick a gf flour that doesn’t have too much tapioca or potato starch or your dumplings will fall apart. I used locally-milled flour from our co-op. Dumplings are made by touch if that makes sense.
As for the chicken, I love Cooks Venture chicken, and I’ve been buying it for a while. This is not a sponsored post. I’m just trying to put my money where my mouth is. If I’m going to eat animals, I want them well cared for. Hence, I buy my beef from my friend, Joey Niebrugge at Bar W Beef, and my pork from the Humble Hive Homestead, but back to the chicken.
I first cooked a whole bird, deboned it, and then refrigerated the meat while I kept the broth warm. I added back in the chicken right before I boiled the broth to cook my dumplings. I really enjoyed this YouTube video by Molly Baz at Bon Appétit Test Kitchen where she made chicken soup. Her procedure is similar to mine.
Learning to cook for two again is a work in progress, but soup is always on our winter menu.
Bear with me. I’ll write something bout gardening next week. Instead of being outside on these cooler and/or windy and warm days, I’ve been cooking and decorating for Christmas. Included with the decorations are amaryllis bulbs and Narcissus tazetta bulbs, paperwhites, that are so easy to grow and make great gifts. See!?! I put a little garden in my post.
Now, back to my soup obsession.
In the past week, I made a ground beef vegetable soup, my grandmother’s chicken and dumplings, gluten-free of course, but you’d never know, and today’s soup was a Tuscan Italian-sausage-inspired white bean soup. Here is a similar recipe although I changed up some things to make it my own. I always do that.
Part of the reason so much soup has been on the menu are the beans I ordered from Ranch Gordo. I like making a pot of beans to simmer on the stove as I work around the house or online. I find it very soothing.
My process for cooking beans is to first buy the freshest beans you can find. Again, Rancho Gordo has some great ones, and this is not a sponsored post. I’m not sure the company even knows who I am, but who cares?
Then, I sauté carrots, onion, and celery, the holy trinity of vegetables, also called mirepoix in olive oil. I add some dried herbs–or fresh ones if I have any–and then cook them with the beans, In the gallery below–click on photos to enlarge them–you’ll see the whole process. It’s pretty easy. I don’t salt the beans until they are nearly tender. I think it makes the beans cook better, and you won’t end up with too salty beans from the condensation of the broth if you wait. If I’m using the beans by themselves, I’ll add a little bacon or ham in the last hour.
I usually eat some of the beans with a little wilted spinach or other greens for lunch. I learned that from my friend, Debbie. They are also great with rice. Have you seen the packets of already cooked rice at the store? Just the perfect size for two people.
Last week, we had lima beans and ham. We’ve also had cranberry beans, and the Italian sausage soup has small white beans in it too.
So, that’s pretty much the extent of my soup and bean obsession. I hope you enjoyed this post. If you’re missing gardeny-goodness, check out my podcast, the Gardenangelists with Carol J. Michel. This week’s episode is about slowing down, garden chatter, and gifts galore. It’s easy to listen online or on your other devices. Carol has a whole post about how to listen to garden podcasts if you need one.
I hope to write next week about the plants blooming indoors. Happy Advent Everyone!
Love this… exactly our case, just us 2 and I can’t cook small batches PLUS, I love not cooking 2 more days, with leftovers! *Encore Presentations I’ve learned to call them!
THIS is our new favorite this year, that hubby found on NYTimes. We LOVED it so much! https://www.evernote.com/shard/s31/sh/68d57406-9c74-69a0-680f-810d2f811b73/f9e248c49677390a733cb09a8e7d40c2
Thank you so much for this! I appreciate your recipe. Thanks for commenting too.~~Dee
Yes, cooking for just two is definitely challenging. We usually end up having leftovers that we can re-heat later. Your soups look delicious! Happy Holidays, Dee!
Lisa at Greenbow
This post hit the spot here today. It is raining and the temperature is dropping noticeably by the minutes. I might actually try to make some GF dumpling soup soon. Great effort here. I still struggle with cooking too much after the nest was emptied. My children have been out of the nest for 30 years. I tend to share with elderly friends. 😉
Hey Lisa, if you decide to make the gf dumplings, keep your dough a little dry so they don’t dissolve in the soup. I also have to cut mine a bit smaller than I did before with wheat flour. I freeze a lot of soup and share it around too. I love the thought of your sharing it with your older neighbors. I know they appreciate it. ~~Dee
They all look delicious. I appreciate the bean and soup post Dee! Now I’ve got to eat lunch…I’m starving after all of the food pics. 🙂
Hey Dana, in January, why don’t you just come over for lunch? I’ll text you after the holidays. ~~Dee
Soup is perfect for this time of year and your soups look so good! I was feeling under the weather and did get the strength to make some Italian wedding soup last week. Your amaryllis and cactus are so beautiful. I got my amaryllis in storage late but did buy a few bulbs that will get me through until the others come out of storage! What would we do without them during the winter months?
Hi Sonia, I hope you’re feeling much better now. I finally am. I just received another order of bulbs and realized I bought three more amaryllis. I’m crazy. There’s just no excuse for it. ~~Dee
This was a great post. Maybe you can do more of these. You did use vegetables and they’re grown in gardens.
Hi Cocoa and welcome! I’ll try to do more of this type of post. I’m glad you enjoyed it. ~~Dee
We LOVE soup in cooler/colder weather….we have our standbys but hope to venture out a bit…..
Hi Terri, there’s just something so soothing about soup on a cold winter’s day. ~~Dee