Monday, December 19, 2011

Red and Green

Fight as I may, I might as well just accept the fact that the holidays are upon us. It just seems like yesterday it was Easter though. And while I might still stomp my feet and pitch a small fit in protest of yet another year hurtling by, Christmas is here. And because my defiance was no match for Father Time, I made this soup instead . . . as a partial concession and because I like soup.

The last part of that statement may seem the equivalent to someone saying, "Puppies are cute." Duh. Everyone knows that. Everyone loves soup, especially when the weather starts to dip and you're looking for something to warm you up. I hear my friends wax poetic about "I loved when it rained and my mom would make me a grilled cheese and tomato soup. . . ." I'm with them on the grilled cheese. But tomato soup? Yuck. To this day, you won't see me put a spoonful of that to my mouth, but I finally did smarten up when it came to soup. For whatever reason, I was a late bloomer. I guess I was too busy eating butter sandwiches. I'm embarrassed to admit that actually involved Squeeze Parkay, which is perhaps one of the more questionable butter substitutes on the market. But soup is something I've just kind of discovered and embraced in the last 5 or so years. Now I probably eat it several times a week (even if it's just take-out from the local grocery store). It's an easy and healthful option for lunch when I am tempted to eat pizza (which is nearly a daily battle). And it's so nice to make a big vat of it on a weekend and freeze in individual containers to access when I come home from another business trip to an empty refrigerator.

I have some standby soup recipes, but I stumbled upon this recipe a few months ago and thought I'd try it out. It was called Christmas soup, which I thought was random. I wasn't aware of a traditional Christmas soup. I kept reading through the online comments for some tale of tradition but ended up none the wiser. Then I made it and realized how blonde I really am. Seriously, there are stereotypes for a reason, people! Anyway, the ingredients for the soup are all red and green, the ubiquitous colors of the holidays, hence the name Christmas soup. It makes for a very festive soup this time of year. It also makes for a very delicious one, which is more important. Red and green can only take you so far if it tastes like crap.

The soup includes red and green bell peppers, red bliss potatoes, red kidney beans, I added some sausage with peppers in it to keep the red and green theme going, and of course green kale because seriously wasn't it some sort of law that you had to eat kale this year? You couldn't escape kale if you tried. I really do love it but I think its 15 minutes of fame are up. Let another vegetable have the spotlight, you know?

This would make for the perfect dish to whip up over the holidays when time is short and stomachs are growling. It's also a one-pot wonder, which is great because you can spend more time enjoying another glass of eggnog, er. . . I mean enjoying the magic of the season with your family instead of scrubbing dishes in the kitchen.

Christmas Soup
Adapted from Alton Brown

1 lb pre-cooked sausage, sliced 1/4-inch thick on the bias (the original recipe called for keilbasa but I used a roasted pepper turkey sausage)
Vegetable oil, as needed
8 cloves or garlic, minced
2 15 oz cans kidney beans, rinsed
1 15 oz can garbanzo beans, rinsed
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
2 cups onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 1/2 qt chicken broth
1 lb red bliss potatoes, cubed
6 oz fresh kale (approximately 4 large handfuls)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

Place the sausage into a Dutch over and set over medium-low heat. Cook meat until it's has browned well, approximately 15 minutes. Add a little vegetable oil if needed. Remove meat from the pan and set aside.
Add 2 tsp of oil unless there is already that left in the pan after browning the meat and cook onions, bell peppers and garlic and cook for approximately 7-10 minutes, stirring often over medium heat. Add the beans, diced tomatoes and chicken broth. Cover and cook for 45 minutes. Add the potatoes, cover and cook an additional 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Wash, rinse and trim the stem from the kale and tear into bite size pieces. Add the kale to the pot, cover and cook for another 10 minutes until just tender but not mushy.
Add the red wine vinegar, black pepper and sausage to the pot. Stir to combine and serve.

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