2014-04-25 / Columns

Cooking on Purpose

Still cool enough to enjoy hearty soups and stews
By Connie Wendell
Special to the Post

The calendar tells us it’s spring but those chilly winds tell me it’s still time to warm up with some homemade soup and stew.

I’ve included some recipes that are a bit removed from traditional. They are all, delicious, nutritious and easy to make.

They will certainly warm you up until our warm weather gets here.

New England sweet potato soup

2½ to 3 pounds of sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces; ½ cup chopped onion; ¼ cup maple syrup; 1 clove garlic, minced; ½ teaspoon dried sage, crushed; ¼ teaspoon salt; 1/8 teaspoon black pepper; 2 14-ounces cans of chicken broth; 1 cup water; ½ cup half-and-half, light cream or milk; crisp, cooked crumbled bacon (optional); and sliced scallion (optional).

In a 3½- or 4-quart slow cooker, combine sweet potatoes, maple syrup, garlic, sage, salt and pepper. Pour in the broth and the water.

Cover and cook on low heat setting for six to eight hours or on high for three to four hours.

Using a potato masher, mash the soup until desired consistency.

For a smoother texture use an immersion blender or puree in batches in a blender. Whisk in half-andhalf until well mixed. Sprinkle each serving with crumbled bacon and scallions. Serves six.

French country soup

8 ounces dry navy, Great Northern or cannellini beans; 6 cups water; 1 pound beef or lamb stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes; 4 cups reduced sodium chicken broth; 2 medium carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces; 2 stalks celery, cut into 1-inch pieces; 1 large onion, cut into wedges; 1 cup dry white wine; 6 cloves garlic, minced (1 tablespoon); 3 bay leaves; 1 ½ teaspoons dried rosemary, crushed; ½ teaspoon salt; ¼ teaspoon black pepper; and toasted French bread slices.

Rinse and drain beans. In a 4-quart Dutch oven, combine beans and the water. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand for one hour.

Drain and rinse beans in colander. In a 3½- to 6-quart slow cooker, stir together beans, meat, broth, carrots, celery, onion, wine, garlic, bay leaves, rosemary, salt and pepper.

Cover and cook on low heat setting for eight to 10 hours or on high heat setting for four to five hours. Remove and discard bay leaves before serving. Serves six.

Garbanzo Bean stew

3 15-ounce cans garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained; 1 pound red-skin potatoes, cut into ¾-inch pieces; 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes; ¾ cup chopped red sweet pepper (1 medium); ½ cup chopped onion (1 medium); 3 cloves garlic, minced; 1 teaspoon ground cumin; ½ teaspoon paprika; ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper; and 2 14-ounce cans vegetable broth.

In a 5- or 6-quart slow cooker, stir together garbanzo beans, potatoes, undrained tomatoes, sweet pepper, onion, garlic, cumin, paprika and cayenne pepper. Pour vegetable broth over bean mixture in cooker.

Cover and cook on low heat setting for nine to 10 hours or high heat setting for four and a half to five hours.

Serves four to six.

Enjoy these recipes and until next time keep Cooking on Purpose.

Connie Wendell can be reached at conniewendell27@gmail.com.

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