Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Winter Stew

A winter soup served in a sturdy white glass tea-cup. 

Winter-time is a perfect time to make a big batch of hearty, warm, savory stew. Everyone has their own favorite recipe for stew, with their own variations. Here is one standard "pantry" recipe of mine: 

Onion (small to medium)
Celery (a few ribs)
Olive Oil
One Boneless Skinless chicken thigh
Three cans of your favorite beans (see note below)
Barley (about a half-cup)
Small can tomato paste
Italian Seasoning, Salt and Pepper

Cook beans first if using home-soaked, in a separate pot.
Chop celery and onion, and mince 1-2 cloves of garlic. Briefly saute onion, celery, and garlic. You do not want to cook them until tender now, but just to get them started. 
Then  add one chicken thigh (boneless & skinless).  Saute the meat a bit, then add water. I cannot tell you how much water, but in my soup pot, I fill it halfway. 
Add beans and barley, the tomato paste, a teaspoon (or more) of Italian seasoning, and cook until done. I usually let it come to a boil and then turn it down to simmer.
Add salt and pepper to taste. 
When it is done (in about 1/2 hour to 45 minutes) take the meat out and chop it finely and put it back. The meat is in there for the flavor of it, as the beans and the barley make a complete protein. 

Note on Beans: It is cheaper if you buy beans dry instead of canned, and soak them yourself. If you soak them, then pour off the water, spread the beans out on a cookie sheet, and freeze, then scoop the frozen beans into freezer bags, you will always have beans on hand ready to cook. Also, cooking them from this frozen state speeds the process up a little bit. 
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