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C’mon in and grab a seat over there by the fire. Cold out isn’t it?
In other words…
Even in L.A. we haven’t escaped Winter’s clutches. This year we have had more than double the rainfall of a normal year. Last weekend a single storm produced one of the highest rainfall totals in L.A. history and just this morning there was a freeze and frost warning.
I know I know.
Here! Look how rainy it was!
It really doesn’t help warm things up when I keep my home thermostat at 60. In the “right” household you just have to put on a pair of socks, some sweats and maybe a hoody. That central heating costs money, Jackson and I’m responsible for the bills. In the summer months we don’t turn on the air until it’s over 80 degrees inside. See? We are a tough, hardened breed out here on the West Coast. We don’t need no fancy warmin’ or coolin’!
Which means it gets cold as a motherfucker inside the place in the Winter. Rather than turn on the central heat I prefer to use my own warming technique.
That’s right. Turn on the damn stove.
One way to warm things up is by cooking something in the oven that takes hours to prepare. A nice big slab of animal flesh and some savories would do it. Or another and slightly more efficient way of warming things up is, make some fucking soup!
Why, it was just last week when I slung out a big old bowl of some delicious clam chowder.
There’s something so damn satisfying about a bowl of hot, homemade, savory soup. It’s delicious and most soups are easy as shit to put together. A basic rule of thumb for soups is get some fat, some savories, some herbs and some stock and cook for a couple of hours. This basic method works as a start to ANY soup. The fat also comes in many forms. Can you cook some bacon and use the bacon grease? Hell yes! Read that clam chowder recipe again. I’m a big fan of using a ham bone for soups. You can also use ham hocks, chicken that’s still on the bone, smoked turkey legs, turkey necks or a bigass piece of salt pork. Today I’m using a couple of leftover prime rib bones from my Christmas Day dinner for one of my favorite soups.
Savories? Onion and garlic are a good place to start. Want to add in some more depth and make it a little more filling? Throw in some sliced carrots or chopped celery or turnips, green chilies or potatoes, leeks, greens, mushrooms. Go nuts! Be sure to add the “mushy” vegetables like mushrooms or potatoes during the last part of the cooking process so they don’t turn into potato roux.
Herbs: I like thyme and bay leaf to start but you can add whatever you want. Rosemary, chives, cilantro, hell man, it’s your soup.
Seasonings can be whatever you want but start with salt and pepper and adjust accordingly.
Making a bean soup? A ham bone works great with pinto, navy, kidney, red, black and pretty much every other type of bean. If you are a regular reader you know I’ve dropped some wicked bean knowledge in the past.
Finally, if you want to stretch the soup so it can feed the family for maybe more than one day add some noodles or dumplings or matzoh balls to help extend the meal. Serve with some type of bread object and you are all set to go.
Back in my broke-ass days right after divorcing the former Mrs. right, I was paying a thousand bucks a month child support… $1,000.00 per goddamn month! For 10 fucking years! Many weeks money was shorter than our recently elected orange-faced nightmare’s dick but I had to survive somehow. I would make a pot of beans or soup on Sunday and I could stretch that for the better part of the week. Financially I’m much better these days but I still get a hankering for a bowl of soup or a pot of beans sometimes.
Shutting the fuck up now.
The reason I’m using beef bones today is I am making lentil soup and I love the combination of beef and lentils. Beef bones go really well with 15 bean soup too.
Want an easy as fuck recipe?
Lentil soup with beef.
1 16 oz bag of dried lentils.
4 cups of beef stock.
1 onion chopped.
2 stalks of celery sliced
3 garlic cloves minced.
Couple of leftover beef bones.
1 teaspoon of thyme.
2 bay leaves.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Get out a soup pot or Dutch oven and add in the bones, onion, celery, garlic, thyme, bay leaves and beef stock. Bring to a low simmer on the stove top and cook for 1 hour. Next add in the lentils.
Lentils are fairly delicate and you want to make sure these don’t come to a full boil. Just a gentle simmer for about an hour. You may need to add in some additional stock or water at the end if they get too thick. Could you make this recipe using just water instead of stock? Absolutely but I like to season at each possible point along the way and stock gives the soup a little extra richness that water doesn’t.
After an hour turn the heat off and remove the bones and allow them to cool. They will of course be hot as fuck after cooking for a couple of hours so allow them to hang out for about 15 minutes. Using your hands or a couple of forks, remove the rest of the meat that’s still on the bones and return the meat to the pot. It’s OK to have a little fat in there too because fat is a delicious flavor.
Ladle up. Serve with some bread of choice and maybe a shot or two of Louisiana Hot Sauce and you are all set!
But what if?
I did say “bread of choice” did I not?
Do you know what falls under the “bread” type category?
Motherfucking hush puppies!!!
Holy good goddamn shitsnacks yes!
That’s a basic tartar sauce next to the little puppy. It’s a family thing. Mix together some mayo, sweet pickle relish and minced onion then add salt and pepper to taste.
Don’t ask. I think it’s a fish and chips and hush puppy memory.
If you would rather make a batch of cornbread there’s a badass cornbread recipe in that lima beans and ham hocks recipe above.
I just felt that some hush puppies would be a nice change of pace. Not to mention they are pretty damn easy to make.
One important trick is make sure the batter isn’t too thin unless you really want some funnel cake with your lentils.
I’m going to give you a small batch recipe since there were just 3 of us eating. This can easily be doubled or tripled depending on the number of guests.
1/2 cup of self rising flour – yes, self rising.
1/2 cup of cornmeal.
1 tablespoon of sugar.
1/2 onion minced fine.
1 egg beaten.
1/4 cup of whole milk – actually start by adding milk until reaching the desired consistency. I’m just saying it was about 1/4 cup.
Some oil for frying.
Your batter should look something like this.
Seasoning-wise you can just sprinkle some salt over the cooked hush puppies or spice things up with a little cayenne or even paprika. I just used some salt.
Pour the oil into a pot or if you have a deep fryer use that motherfucker. Get the oil temp to about 350 degrees.
Mix together the flour, cornmeal and sugar. In a separate bowl mix together the milk, onion and egg. When the wet ingredients are mixed add them to the dry ingredients and be sure not to over mix. Think corn bread here.
Using a couple of spoons roll each puppy into a ball like this:
DJ Taj assisted on the hush puppy prep. Yes he is a Memphis alum.
Drop each puppy into the hot oil and cook until golden brown and delicious. Don’t overcrowd the pot of oil.
When done, drain the hush puppies on a plate that’s been covered with paper towels. If you are making several batches preheat the oven to about 225 and keep the cooked hush puppies warm until all are cooked.
Sweet! We got to turn on the oven too! Additional warmth!
Here’s where you make sure the lentils are warmed back up. Get yourself a bowl and a spoon and dish some lentils in there. Hit with some hot sauce if desired. Get yourself a plate for the puppies and let’s get this goddamn party started!
A quick note on the photos used. I usually use a similar set up for the primary photo of Sunday Gravy, what I call the “money shot.” This involves my version of plating and the new fancy plates but it was so overcast, rainy and dark when I took them that the photo ended up casting a shadow and just didn’t meet my Sunday Gravy standards.
Here it would have been:
Fucking Winter, man!
To summarize we’ve got a simple soup recipe that’s hearty, rich, savory and just warms the very soul. Partner that with some crunchy, delicious but pleasantly dense hush puppies as a bread item and you have just officially kicked Winter in the ass so hard that Spring will be here before you know it.
This batch of lentils fed three hungry folks about 2 bowls each and there was still more than enough to freeze and reheat and serve 3-4 people again at a later time.
Inexpensive AND delicious.
So go ahead and use that kitchen to warm the house up. Practice your soup skills and you will be a soup fucking master in no time.
Fuck off Winter! Soup’s on!