Sunday, October 24, 2010

Cold weather cooking

This morning I woke to a cold, gray sky. I made myself semipresentable, grabbed the camera, got into the car, and headed for town.

I'm proud of my tiny, odd mill town. I haven't been here quite a year yet, but I every evening when I drive through on my way home from work, my heart fills when I come around the first bend and see the old mills looming large over the left side of the main drag, and the tiny shops all in a row to the right. So even though we're a little past prime up here, this morning I took pictures to capture fall in Newmarket.

I drove around some of the side roads too, down to the Great Bay. I didn't realize there were so many luxe houses here. But I do appreciate that the town has a little of everything. Along with the out-of-the-way richies, there are lots of hipster college kids, many earthy hippie types, and the locals who grew up here. In front of the coffee shop, it's typical to see a Lexus parked next to a beat-up pickup truck. And it's typical to hear conversations about graffiti as a growing problem, the band that played last night at the Stone Church, and local drum circles. I revel in it. Probably because it reminds me of Amherst and Northampton, MA.

The sky never lightened after this morning's sojourn, and stitching alone in my apartment, I could feel my fingers growing colder. But I come from a long line of yankees who proudly refuse to turn on the heat until absolutely necessary. No way does 45 degrees warrant anything more than another sweater. And maybe a blanket over my lap. And maybe some soup to warm me up.

I read several recipes and then came up with the following. It turned out quite good. Enjoy!

I started out cooking up some kielbasa in olive oil to give the pot a smoky flavor--just enough to get it warm and juicy, but not enough to brown it. Then I tossed in three cloves of chopped garlic and a healthy sprinkling of red pepper flakes.

Next, I poured in four cups of chicken broth. I wanted organic, but I also wanted something low in sodium. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find both in the same package. So I chose organic over low sodium. Depending on your salt sensitivity, you may want to do the opposite. Considering the other ingredients, this is a pretty salty bowl of soup.

Once the broth was warmed through, I put in a chopped bunch of kale. I've never cooked with kale before, but it shrinks just like spinach (and isn't half as tedious to prepare).  

When the kale was good and shrunken down in the pot, I added a handful of Parmesan cheese (which is essentially adding a layer of salt as well as yumminess).

Next, the star of the show: small white beans. These are another first for me today. I dumped in the whole can for added liquid and a slight thickener.

Finally, I added pistou, which is French and fancy for "half a container of store-bought pesto." Kidding--my Frenchie ancestors would kick me for buying a container of the stuff, and I do make good pesto from scratch. But damn, a girl doesn't always have time for that sort of nonsense. That's when a tub of pesto comes in handy.

And what soup doesn't cry out for a slice of crusty bread and a little butter? Tonight I found a darling rosemary rustic bread at the bakery. I used some quality local butter. And the final results:

 Hope you had a great weekend too.


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