Wednesday, March 17, 2010

what a perfect time of year to be working on soups

This year, southern California where I live has  had one of the most perfect winters I've come across in a long time.  Why?  Because we've had just enough rain in just the right amounts:  not enough to cause significant damage, yet enough to fill up our very skimpy lakes, streams and reservoirs.  And for those of us who live in a place where rain is scarce, every rainstorm is a big event.  We love the sound of rain on the roof and the rare occasion to pull out a raincoat (at least those of us who have them).  Best of all, this has been a perfect season for working on soups, my latest subject.  Unless I'm going out to dinner, I find I just don't eat a lot, and a bowl of soup often makes the perfect evening meal.  The fact that it has been cold and rainy has made soup making even more appealing.

I've been looking for ideas that don't use a lot of ingredients, are easy to make, are healthy and in this economy, economical.  Soups fit the bill perfectly.  I've started with beans, working my way through the repertoire at my local health food store, tasting different varieties, searching out different colors and textures, then working my way into grains, potatoes and hearty winter squashes that hold up well to extended cooking times.  The more fragile ingredients can be put in near the end of the cooking time.

And once again, I've been greatly enjoying the All Clad special with the stove top insert.  Man, it makes cleanup such a breeze.  Just yesterday, a neighbor gave me a recipe for French onion soup that calls for roasting the onions in the oven for several hours before consigning them to the soup pot, but with the slow cooker, you can do the "roasting" right in the pot.....for hours on end....and come out with some beautifully caramelized onions.

Do you have a favorite family soup recipe that you'd like to share?  If so, send it along and I'll post a few of them.