As it gets colder I seem to always start thinking about hearty stews and soups. It’s such a great, better choice. Probably in terms of Paleo, pretty decent once there were rudimentary cooking vessels. I wonder how far back you have to go to find that they could take a big rock from a river or waterfall that had been carved out over eons, build a fire around it and enjoy the most durable cookware ever, that held liquids.
But you don’t have to choose. You just have to plan. You can even plan on the fly.
Last week or so, I decided to do a lamb rib stew.
A bit of coconut oil in the pot browned them nicely on medium high heat; after which, I simmered and braised them in some beef stock (I use Kitchen Basics—it’s good quality and no longer worth the trouble of doing my own). Of course, the fresh lamb rib bones remain in the thing throughout. Then there are the veggies, and nothing like root veggies for a stew or soup.
I used one whole onion, sliced up and sautéed with a few cloves of crushed garlic. Used one of the Kohlrabi, a wonderful vegetable, especially for stews and soup. And, I think only one of the potatoes. Here’s a hint. Braise or simmer your meat until fully tender, then introduce your veggies for the last 40 minutes to an hour, so that they don’t become mush.
The basic distinction I make between a stew and soup, for me, is that a stew is heavy on meat, you keep the fat in, fewer vegetables and you reduce it to thickness. For a soup, I like broth. Heavier on the veggies and lighter on the meat.
So that’s how you go from stew to soup. This was 3 1/2 pounds of lamb, just a bit of the veggies.
Actually, after I took that photo I decided to reduce more so both bowls went back in. By the time I served it was thick, 2/3 meat, easy. But of course, for two people, a lot of leftovers, but it was mostly the meat that had been consumed.
OK, step one for soup conversion was to bring the leftovers up to heat and add enough stock to make it liquid, so I could strain the whole thing. Next, skim the fat off (later fed to the dogs in bits with each feeding).
Next it was a simple matter of introducing that back with the leftovers, adding more onion, carrot, kohlrabi, potato AND stock for about a 45 minute simmer. Because of the more watery deal, you might want to simmer a bit to concentrate, then add the veggies and taste every 10 minutes or so and add salt as necessary. Do this carefully and you’ll end up with a nice broth but no watery taste. The water/salt balance is crucial for an awesome soup.
Oh, on a final ingredient note, there’s a few mini dill pickles in there and an entire lemon chopped up, rind and all. I won’t even try to explain it. Just try it.
…And yes, there’s a few herbs and spices beyond salt & pepper. A bit of paprika, cumin, parsley, and perhaps a bit of Italian seasoning, but I can’t recall. Everything is always a one-off, for me.