Growing up in Southern New Jersey, my family spent many summers "down the shore." My aunt and uncle have a beautiful home on Long Beach Island where my husband and I usually spend a week in August. My favorite thing about LBI is there's virtually no big retail stores. Everything from the grocery stores to the restaurants - all locally run. There's not a TGI Fridays or Giant in sight. Hubby's favorite is an ice cream parlor that's been around for at least 30 years complete with a player piano. I have to say, it's special to see my spouse fall in love with a place from my childhood. He just gets it.
Beyond kayaking in the lagoon and sailing with my uncle, one of the best things about our LBI vacations is definitely the food. My aunt lays out dinners of grilled sweet corn, roasted summer vegetables, fresh herbs (growing on her deck), fish straight from the dock, and fruit from the farmer's markets. Lunch is always something to look forward to. It's composed of what we had for dinner the night before mixed in with fresh greens and balsamic vinegar with olive oil. Her salads opened my eyes to new flavor combinations and has inspired me in my own cooking adventures. Before this year, I was known for my own "everything but the kitchen sink" salads and it was a staple at my dinner parties. It usually included goat cheese, fresh corn shaved from the cob and dates.
Hubby was headed to Whole Foods yesterday, so I decided to use up the remaining vegetables in the fridge to create some room. Rather than a salad, I was totally in the mood for soup. I asked him to pick up some delicious crusty bread of his choice (he knows to look for 3 grams of fiber or more now!) I've also been reading "How to Cook Without the Book" by Pam Anderson which had a very helpful chapter on making soup. First rule? When junk goes in, junk comes out. Basically with fresh ingredients to start, it's easy to make an excellent soup.
Karen's "Everything But the Kitchen Sink" Soup
2 T extra virgin olive oil
2 zucchinis, diced
2 Yukon potatoes, diced
4 carrots, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 large bunch of swiss chard leaves, roughly chopped and stems removed
1 15 oz can cannellini beans
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup bulgur, cooked
48 oz chicken broth (1 ½ cartons)
2/3 cup white wine
1 Chicken/Apple Sausage, thinly sliced
Penzy’s Northwood Spices (mix of coarse flake salt, paprika, black pepper, thyme, rosemary, garlic and chipotle.)
Freshly ground pepper
Shredded Parmesan cheese
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and let them sauté for 3-4 minutes until translucent. Then, add the remaining vegetables & wine. Spice generously with penzy (or your own mix), salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly and let the veggies stew in their own juices, wine and tomatoes for about 10 minutes with the lid tightly on the pot. When veggies are tender, you can add the chicken broth & beans. Taste and season to your liking. Put the lid back on the pot and cook for another 10 minutes (med-low heat). Add previously cooked Chicken Apple Sausage and bulgur at the end. In five minutes, everything will be heated up and ready to serve. Serve with a piece of crusty bread and a pinch of shredded parmesan cheese in the soup.
- Recently filed in the Duh! folder: I burned my first pot because I left the oil sizzling on high heat without the onions for too long. It looks terrible, I may not be able to scrub out the scorch mark! First duh, followed by a second...I opened the french doors in my living room leading out to the back yard (unfenced) to clear the very smoked filled kitchen. I thought I tightly closed the doors when I let Sami back in, but a gust of wind blew it open and my puppy almost took off outside without a leash. Thank goodness she had the good sense to be startled and backed away in time for me to close it again! Damn this sprained ankle...yes, I'm blaming my lack of common sense on it.
- Hubby brought home an outstanding loaf of oatmeal, flax, honey and date bread. The sweetness of the dates and honey with the savory taste of the soup was an unexpected, yet heavenly, combination.
- I can't wait to have this soup for lunch...it's always better the next day.
- The best thing about this dish was how quickly it came together. From first chop to in the bowl was approximately 35 minutes. Twenty of which I was sitting watching tv!