I love how versatile soup can be - you can give or take a few ingredients, and the flavor will transform altogether. However, all ingredients aren't up for change - some things need to remain constant for the soup to remain... well... a soup in the first place.
Such is life and family, eh?
Family is such a key ingredient in the soup of life. And what a complex, yet simplistic ingredient it is.
Without family, the soup will never be the same - and I can almost guarantee it will taste less savory. Any ingredients used to substitute such a key ingredient will prove to be superficial and illusive; never leaving you with the very comfort the dish is known to provide. The soup won't give you the proper nourishment. It might not even turn out to be soup after all.
With the starring ingredient of family, the soup will be filling; and with the loving simmer of time, the flavors will become more enriched, more desirable, and the only place the heart can heal and feel at home again. Always.
for Ash - love you.
Vegetable and White Bean Chowder
6 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into very small pieces
1 C finely diced red onion
1/2 C finely diced celery
3/4 C finely diced carrot
1/2 C finely diced red bell pepper
5 C low sodium chicken or vegetable stock
x2 15oz cans white cannelli beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 t dried thyme
1/2 C milk
1 T flour
1/2 C dry sherry
salt and pepper to taste
1. In a large soup pot, cook bacon over medium high heat until brown and crisp. Remove from pot and lay bacon on a paper towel to drain.
2. Pour out all but 1 t bacon fat. Return pot to medium high heat and add in onion, celery, carrots, and red bell paper. Saute until vegetables are softened, about 3 minutes.
3. Increase heat to high and add sherry - scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Cook until almost all sherry has evaporated, about 4 minutes.
4. Reduce the heat to medium and sprinkle four and thyme over the vegetables. Stir and cook for 1-2 minutes.
5. Add the chicken/vegetable stock, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan. Increase heat to high and bring soup to a boil.
6. Add the beans and milk. Reduce heat and simmer for as long as needed to boil out alcohol in sherry - we simmered ours for about 4-5 hours. If you want to keep it all in there, simmer the sucker for an hour.
7. Taste and adjust seasonings. Garnish with additional minced vegetables or fresh thyme if desired.
Recipe source: A Communal Table