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Monday, January 25, 2010

Soup - a complex relationship

I have found myself many-a-time faced with inconsistent stances on food.

For example, I don't like tomato sauce. I don't like it on pasta, on pizza, on stuffed peppers, or rice. I don't like dipping fried mozzarella sticks in it or mixing it with seafood. I'd rather it not be included at all.

That's how I stand on that.

But...every so often, I will end up eating it (whether for lack of other options, or choice) and I may enjoy it.

This was the case this past weekend when my aunt made stuffed shells and homemade meatballs. She used tomato sauce. And I liked it. I even had seconds.

But, if I had pasta for dinner tonight, I probably wouldn't use tomato sauce as a sauce. I still prefer to stay away from it.

I have very similar feelings where soup is concerned.

I don't like soup.

But how can I say this really? REALLY?

There are so many types of soups, let alone flavors among those types.

You have...
1.) Broth Soups
2.) Cream Soups
3.) Chilled Soups
4.) Dessert Soups
5.) Chowders
6.) Stews

To nix out an entire world of culinary variety would be ludicrous - for me, at least.

And, honestly, I do like all of these types with exception to broth soups (which can also be good sometimes under the right circumstances), but I usually prefer not to eat it for one reason or another. Here are some reasons (probably) why...

1.) Sodium Content - if it came from a can, it's probably far too salty.
2.) Distribution of Ingredients -I like soup that is hearty with the advertised ingredients. If it's called Clam Chowder, there better be clams in there and plenty of them. Many times, this is not the case and, therefore, not worth ordering to find out. I mean, how odd is it that people are surprised when the soup is actually good? This is a telling sign.
3.) Quality of Ingredients - this is why I also never order soup out. You can taste the difference between processed and real, frozen or fresh.
4.) Psychological Trauma - I can't tell you the amount of times I've burnt my tongue on soup. I still harbor bad vibes for this chocolate as well.

Now that I've gotten all that out of the way, it's time to talk about what I made for lunch this week. Are you ready for the irony?

Maybe it's not too ironic, since I didn't make Chicken Soup with extra salt and bits of chicken from processed chicken nuggets at a scorching hot temperature.

I made Lamb Stew.

I sometimes wonder if stew is really part of the soup family or soup's opposite. I mean, stew is comprised of solid ingredients with small amounts of liquid to retain the ingredients' combined flavors. Soup, on the other hand, is a mass of liquid that holds ingredients within it.

I imagine stew as a mountain or a structure with cracks throughout it, which are filled with water. Soup I imagine as a body of water where the ingredients swim within it.

Two different things.

In any case, I made the lamb stew with the organic lamb I had in the freezer. Here's how I made it...

- one large sweet potato
- 2 parsnips
- 6 carrots
- 2 stalks celery
- 3 small onions
- 2 beets
- 1 lb turnip greens
- 3 cans chicken broth
- few cloves garlic
-2 lbs lamb

Directions: I cut up all the veggies, except for the garlic and turnip greens, and put them in a casserole dish. I put some olive oil over it and sat it in the oven at 400.
I cut off whatever excess fat I could from the lamb and chopped up the garlic. In a pan, I browned the lamb with garlic and olive oil at a high heat.
Once brown, I replaced the pan with a pot containing 2 cans' worth of chicken broth. As it heated up, I added chopped-up turnip greens (I didn't include the stems). I removed the veggies and added them to the pot as well, followed by the lamb.
At medium heat, I allowed it to cook for about 20 minutes. I ended up adding a 3rd can of chicken stock and let it all simmer for another 30 or so. Here's how it looked...

Notice the red color brought on by the beets (I suggest cutting the beets carefully so as not to stain yourself). It really is a vibrant dish and very tasty - especially after adding some cilantro.

I will say that, diet-wise, there are flaws in this stew. Some veggies used, such as carrots and beets, are high in sugar. And there's still some fat on that lamb I used. So it's not like I can splurge during other meals of the day simply because this dish is healthy.

I did, in fact, splurge over the weekend with homemade pizza, homemade desserts, alcohol, etc. That's what I get for going to 2 parties. :-) But I'm back on track again. I weighed myself on Friday morning at 162-163....3-4 pounds less than a few weeks ago.

So things aren't so bad.

I'll weigh myself in again in another 2 weeks (Feb 5 or 6) and keep you up-to-date on culinary experiences in the meantime.

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