Maybe you're inside with the shades drawn, an old movie blaring, and the heat turned up way high. Maybe you don't know that winter has finally arrived in St. Paul since you're off work for a couple of days with a full refrigerator and a big stack of books you put off reading. Probably not, though. (Doesn't it sound good?) Most likely, you've braved the chilly streets and given thanks that they're not full of a foot of snow.
From the looks of Kowalski's parking lot yesterday, a lot of you, however, aren't out grocery shopping. Not having lived through a northern winter for a good many years, it slipped my mind that stores could be emptier in really cold weather. Why go out if you don't really have to? In warmer climates, if the temperature begins to dip or snow threatens, the stores are mobbed with frightened locals emptying the shelves of bread and milk. Good St. Paulites simply pantry up late fall and make sure they've an extra pot roast or two in the freezer and a few cans of tomatoes in the basement pantry for those days when there's a bit more happiness in a pot of soup made without a walk or drive to the store. If you also laid by some root vegetables from the farmer's market and even a cabbage or two, here's a soup to make the next time you'd rather just stay home. Where it's warm. Like today. (Dessert? Fry up a few sliced apples in some butter with a sprinkle of sugar and cinnamon. Add some vanilla ice cream for right-away "pie." Who needs crust?)
St. Paul Beef-Bacon Vegetable Soup to Warm Your Heart (and all else) 8-10 servings
- 6 slices thick-cut bacon (I like Nueske's)
- 2-3# beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1" pieces
- Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
- 1 large onion, diced
- 5 carrots, peeled, trimmed, and cut into 1" pieces
- 2 parsnips, peeled, trimmed, and cut into 1/2" pieces
- 1 turnip, peeled and diced
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled, and minced
- 4 cups each: low-sodium beef broth, chicken broth, and water
- Hot sauce--a few drops (or more to taste)
- 1 small can (5.5 oz) V-8 juice
- 2T fresh thyme, chopped
- 2 cups thinly sliced cabbage
- 4 oz (about 8 medium button) mushrooms
- 1 medium zucchini, sliced or diced
- Heat a 10 or 12 qt stockpot briefly over medium heat and add bacon. Brown to a crisp, watching carefully. Remove bacon to towel-lined platter and let cool. Chop into small pieces and refrigerate until later. Pour off all but 2T bacon fat and add beef pieces to the stockpot. Let meat brown well on one side, turn, and brown on the other side. Salt and pepper generously--about 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp black pepper for now.
- Add onions, carrots, parsnips, and turnip. Stirring regularly, let cook another five minutes or so before adding garlic. Cook one minute and add beef and chicken broths, water, hot sauce, and V-8. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 1 1/2 - 2 hours until meat and vegetables are nearly tender. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more salt, pepper, or hot sauce as needed.
- Add cabbage, mushrooms, and zucchini. Simmer another 20-30 minutes. Ladle into warm bowls, adding a bit of the cooked bacon to each, and serve hot.
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