Autumn is finally here in Texas, with cool temperatures at night and not-so-sweltering days. It's a lovely time of year. In a few hours we are heading out to the lake in Mineola, TX to enjoy the annual Iron Horse Festival on Saturday. The train played a big part in the town's development and Amtrak still stops there. If you ever want to visit, it's about halfway between Shreveport and Dallas. Here's a photo of Lake Holbrook from last November, just after we closed on the house.
With the cooler weather comes the desire for warm, hearty food. I want to share two recipes for soup this month. Last night I made a pot of bean soup, which is an unwritten old family recipe that I'm sure lots of people have made before. I didn't make a big pot because there are just the two of us at home and hubby isn't a huge fan of leftovers. In case you don't have a recipe or have forgotten how good bean soup can be, here's our version, which makes about four big bowls.
Victoria Chancellor's Bean Soup
3/4 of small bag of Great Northern Beans
1 T. butter or oil
3/4 c. of diced fresh or frozen onion
2 stalks of celery, diced or sliced thin
3/4 to 1 c. diced leftover ham or other similar meat
6 oz. can of tomato paste
Salt and pepper to taste (You need a little more salt than you think you'll need!)
Soak beans overnight. Change water several times and rinse well.
In a large saucepan or pot, Dutch oven or other covered cookware, place rinsed beans and over about 1 inch over top of beans with water. In a small saucepan saute the onion, celery and ham in butter or oil until limp and slightly browned. Add to beans in saucepan/pot along with tomato paste, salt and pepper, and stir well. Raise temperature only until bubbly, then reduce temp, cover and cook for about three hours, until beans are tender. Serve with cornbread and ice cold milk for a great dinner.
This second recipe is from the blog of friend and fellow writer Winnie Griggs, who is also from the East Texas region. I haven't made this gumbo yet, but if you have a little more time and need to serve more folks, it sounds like a great recipe.
Winnie Griggs' Cowboy Gumbo
(from Petticoats & Pistols blog 9/30/10)
■1/4 cup butter or vegetable oil
■2 tblsp flour
■2 cloves garlic, minced
■1 small onion, chopped
■1/4 cup green onions, chopped
■1 stalk celery, finely chopped
■1/3 cup chopped bell pepper
■5-6 cups chicken or seafood stock (can substitute water if this is unavailable)
■1 can (12-15 oz) diced tomatoes (if you’d like an extra kick, use the kind with chopped green chilies or southwestern style)
■1 can (6-8 oz) tomato paste
■2 bay leaves
■2 tablespons Worchestershire sauce
■3 teaspoons chili powder
■1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
■1 lb sliced okra (best if sauteed separately with ½ teaspoon vinegar until ‘slime’ is gone)
■4 lbs meat – any one kind or a combination of your favorites. Meats that work well in a gumbo are Sausage (cut into ½ inch slices), deboned chicken or other fowl, pork, shrimp, crawfish, crab or even game meats
■Tobasco sauce or liquid crab boil to taste (optional)
■Use flour and oil or butter to make a roux. Do this by combining the two ingredients in a heavy saucepan and cooking over a low heat, stirring constantly until the mixtures turns the color of a copper penny (about 15-20 minutes).
■Add garlic, onions, green onions, celery and bell peppers. Cook until tender
■Add the remaining ingredients EXCEPT okra (and shellfish if applicable) and bring to a boil.
■Reduce heat, cover and cook for 30 minutes
■Add okra (and shellfish if applicable). Return to a boil.
■Reduce heat and simmer for another twenty minutes.
■Remove bay leaves, skim excess oil, and serve over rice.Leftovers (if there are any!) can be frozen for later consumption.
Enjoy your hearty soups and stews! See you next month for some holiday inspired recipes. Best wishes, happy reading and happy Thanksgiving.