At least that’s how I feel. Whenever someone is sick, or new to the neighborhood, or had a fantastic day, when it’s winter, soup seems to be one of the most heartfelt things you can give. It’s warming, comforting, takes a little bit of effort so you know there’s love.
Thursday night my family took a meal to a family that recently had a beautiful baby girl (it came so fast she didn’t make it to her hospital, in fact, she almost didn’t make it to the hospital at all!!) We’re all apart of a Mom’s Group in Plymouth, and they’ve signed up for this wonderful ‘Take Them A Meal’ Program. (you can sign someone up that’s having a baby, sick, whatever, it’s a fantastic resource!). For a mom’s group where inevitably there are going to be multiple baby things happening (meaning women having babies), it’s a great way to organize meals for a new mom so it’s one less thing the family has to think about. Anyway, last night was my turn, I made soup (for the above reasons).
I had actually started out thinking I was going to make a quiche. The family now has 7 members, and I wanted to make sure I made enough food, and it would be food that kids and parents would enjoy, that could be reheated or frozen easily, and contained lots of healthy ingredients. When I got down to the actual cooking, I just didn’t feel like making a quiche. So I checked my cabinets, and my freezer, and decided to make a Black Bean, Pumpkin and Ham Soup. Sort of a mouthful right? It is, I thought it might be too many flavors, actually it was one of the best soups I’ve ever made. I have never made it before, and the recipe came from inside my brain as I was cooking.
This is what I did:
I had a frozen ham hock that still had quite a bit of meat on it. I took it out of the freezer to thaw.
I had two cans of black beans
I had 1/2 bag of frozen butternut squash and a can of trader joe’s pumpkin soup.
1/2 serving of the barley lemon pilaf from the previous night
1 medium onion, chopped roughly
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups of chicken stock
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 cups of water
salt, pepper and oregano to taste
I put the olive oil in a warmed pan and then added the onion. Stir until translucent (about 5 minutes). Bung in the garlic. Stir then add the cans of black beans. Let these heat up and just barely start to break down, about 10 minutes. Add the ham hock and cover for 20 minutes. Add butternut squash and soup. Stir. Add chicken stock AND water (these things are already kinda salty, and I don’t really like to add salt, so I cut it a bit with water). Let simmer for 20 minutes. Add barley (you can add rice, orzo, couscous…you get the picture, anything you want and like that has a similar consistency, it doesn’t have to be cooked before you add it to the soup as it will cook in the soup!!) or omit this step altogether. I then let this simmer for about 20-30 minutes more, then I added pepper and oregano to taste. I did not feel it needed more salt (in fact I found it fairly salty). If you like it more salty, by all means…add salt!) That’s it! What I loved about making this dish was that it was SO easy to include Zara, and it was lots of little short spurts (which is perfect for the temper tantrum element we are in once again!), I cut things, she adds them to the pan. She took things out of the fridge for me (this is such an amazing task to ask a toddler to do, it’s like you are asking them to bring you gold, Z LOVES that she can open the fridge, without my help and choose something unassisted).
For this family I also made some chocolate chip corn muffins. I made them mini and packaged them in a egg crate that I stuffed with tissue paper. I then wrapped it up with more tissue paper and tied with some twine. That’s it! It was delish! (I had it for lunch yesterday!)