Friday, February 11, 2011

Healthy Dinners: Kielbasa Soup & Southern Biscuits

My so-close-we're sisters best friend, Sarah.
Well now, it's been quite the week, right?  Today, our recipes come from my so.close.of.a.friend.we.are.sisters Sarah, and my great Aunt Harriett.  Since it's still cold out, I say we need more soup!  I love soup, if you couldn't tell, but I really love soups that help clean out the pantry or you can just use whatever you've got on hand.

Sarah's Kielbasa Soup does just that.  She said "It's really more of a template than a recipe, if you want to use different things, go ahead".  She also mentioned, and I concur, that this soup doubles or triples easily.  It's a great thing to throw in the crock pot, it stores really well for a few days in the fridge to make great leftovers, and if you make a huge batch, it freezes really nicely.

Next up, let's talk about my awesome mama.  My mother owns a cafe and bookstore in Sturgis, SD.  Obviously our shared love of cooking runs deep and it's several generations long.  Awhile back, for my birthday, my mom filled up a cookbook with family recipes and her favorite recipes.  One of them happens to be my Great-Aunt Harriett's "Southern Biscuits".  These biscuits are quick and easy to whip up, easy to add things like different herbs, garlic, shredded cheese, etc. to.  So, like Sarah's soup, they're a bit of a template.  Biscuits and soup go hand in hand, especially when they're fresh out of the oven waiting for a bit of butter and to dipped into a yummy soup.

With no further ado, Sarah's Kielbasa Soup & Harriett's Southern Biscuits

Kielbasa Soup!
Kielbasa Soup

1 cup dried beans (navy, Great Northern, any kind you like), soaked and rinsed (or a can of beans, whatever)
1/2 Polska Kielbasa (or any sausage you like), sliced
1 small onion (or 2 green onions)
1-2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1-2 carrots (or 5-8 baby carrots), sliced/chopped
about 1/2 cup frozen green peas
1 can sliced mushrooms (or 2-3 fresh, sliced)
1 potato, chopped (optional)
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
4 cups water
1 can diced tomatoes (plain or with spices), undrained
1-2 bay leaves
Other spices explained below, depending on the tomatoes

Brown sausage in a frying pan with 1 small onion (or 2 green onions) and 1 clove of garlic, chopped or crushed.

Set your crock pot on High, combine beans, meat mixture, 6 cups of broth and water, celery, carrots, peas, mushrooms, potato if you want, bay leaves, and about 1/2-1 tsp salt and pepper to start.  

Add the diced tomatoes.  If you use tomatoes with Italian spices, add a little Italian seasoning to the soup also.  If you use tomatoes with lime and cilantro, or with green chilies, add 1/2 tsp cumin and 1tsp oregano to start, adding more to taste.  If using unseasoned tomatoes, add whatever seasonings you prefer.
Leave it alone (maybe stir once or twice) for at least 4 hours on High, turning to medium or low.  This is a brothy chunky soup, but if you want it a little creamier, add a potato and after everything's cooked, puree 1/2 cup of the soup in a blender and add it back into the soup.  Or, mash it around a little with a potato masher, if you have one.
Harriett's Southern Biscuits

1 C & 1 T of flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 T shortening
1/2 C buttermilk
1 T shortening (for the pan)

Set oven to 475 degrees. Grease a cast iron skillet or baking pan with 1 T of shortening.  Warm pan in the oven for 7-10 minutes while you make the dough.
Stir dry ingredients together with a fork.
Blend in shortening until mixture is course and grainy. (Some people use a pasty cutter or two forks to 'chop' the ingredients together.)
Stir in buttermilk until the batter is smooth and just combined, over-mixing makes for hard as rock biscuits!
On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough gently about 3-4 times.
Pull the dough apart and pat lightly into 2 inch balls.
Place balls into the pan and flatten lightly.
Bake biscuits for 10 minutes, turning them over once.

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