A Rainy Day Meal
A rainy day is perfect for creating a warm and comforting meal.
With last week’s abundance of rain showers, I decided it was time to make a soup, and a yeast bread to accompany it.
This year’s garden provided lots of fresh vegetables, including many heads of cabbage, so I started with that.
Every time I roast a chicken, I simmer the bones, strain them, and make stock, then freeze it up for soups, stews, or to mix in with mashedpotatoes, so I had plenty of that.
Next, I pulled a few carrots, chopped up several tomatoes, and added some of the herbs we had grown.
Yeast bread is one of our favorites, and a French bread loaf that takes three risings, is the best of all. I usually don’t have enough time to make such a delectable loaf, but on that particular rainy day, I took the time.
Besides being nutritious and delicious, while a homemade soup is simmering, it fills the whole house with a wonderful aroma. Baking yeast bread, does, too.
So that special meal was really special. The scrumptious aromas of both cooking or baking staved off the chill in the air.
Fall is my favorite season, and winter, although rough and cold in many ways, is perfect for digging out the soup pot, looking through the pantry to find what has been preserved, or bought from the grocery store, and experimenting with a variety of soups.
Some of our favorites have recipes, others do not. I use what I have, but almost always begin with stock.
Here’s my cabbage soup recipe. It makes enough for supper with plenty of leftovers for the next day’s lunches.
Garden Cabbage Soup (8 servings)
1 medium head green cabbage, thinly sliced, core removed
2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock
1 15-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed
a half-pound kiel basa, sliced, or use cooked cut-up chicken or turkey (optional)
2 or 3 carrots, sliced into “coins”
2 or 3 large garlic cloves
1 large onion, sliced
2 or 3 tomatoes, cut up
2 bay leaves
1 small bunch parsley, chopped
1 sprinkling of hot pepper flakes, or 1 small hot pepper, cut up (if a “bite” is wanted)
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
In a heavy Dutch oven or large saucepan, sauté the garlic, onions, kiel basa, and carrots in a little olive oil for about 5 minutes. Add stock, bay leaf, beans and tomatoes. Simmer for about 45 minutes. Add cabbage and hot pepper and simmer for 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Top with chopped parsley. Ladle into warmed soup bowls.
Before starting the soup, begin the bread.
Mom’s French Bread (1 loaf)
1 and one-quarter cups warm water
1 package yeast
3 and three-quarters to 4 cups flour
1 and one-half teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons shortening
1 tablespoon sugar
Mix yeast, salt and sugar into the warm water in a large bowl. Stir in shortening until dissolved.
Stir in three and three-quarters cups flour. Mix thoroughly and add more flour if the dough is too soft. Cover and let rest for 15 minutes. Knead thoroughly, flouring hands to prevent sticking, for about 10 minutes. Round up in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 and one-half hours (if it’s cool in my house, I turn the oven on to 170 degrees, turn it off, then placed the covered bowl inside to rise).
Punch down, let rise for 30 minutes. Punch down and let rest of 10 minutes. Roll or shape dough into an oblong, then roll up into a long loaf. Place seam side down on a lightly greased and corn mealed baking sheet. Make three or four shallow slashes diagonally in the loaf. Sprinkle with a little water or brush on an egg white. Cover and let rise for 1 and a half hours (again, a warmed oven will help). Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake for 45 minutes. Serve warm.
The several risings make this bread crusty on the outside and soft and delicious on the inside.
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