As I write this post, the big hurricane named Sandy, is supposed to hit our area of the world. The town we just moved to was out of power for over a week the last time a big storm hit. So in preparation for that possibility, I decided to use some items in the freezer now, just in case the food goes bad from no power in the next day or so. That is why I am calling this hurricane stew! Hey! Maybe it's hurricane soup... I never know what I am making till I create it. Most of my soups are pretty hearty and look like stews anyway! One thing is sure, we are going to have to hunker down inside. So let's make some cozy food, and send good thoughts to those in the path of this large storm.
We have two pastured chickens from a local farm in the freezer. Since I rarely make any meat, I felt this was a good time to defrost one. Everyone online is buzzing about the big storm, so I had a few days warning about the upcoming weather event. Therefore, I was able to plan these next few items one day ahead of the soup making. I decided to slow cook the pastured chicken in the crock-pot to get it ready to add to my soup/stew the next day. Oh Boy, this turned out to be a very big chicken, and it barely fit into my large crock-pot. The local farmer who raised the chicken was a student of Joel Salatin. As a matter of fact, he and his wife spent their honeymoon at Joel's Farm. That is dedication to learning proper farming techniques. Remember if you are going to eat meat, get the most healthy pasture-raised meats available. If you give me that "oh it's so expensive face," I will say to you to just cut back on your meat consumption anyway, and then you can certainly afford to get the good stuff. There is no comparison in taste and nutrient value. Plus there are no weird hormones or GMO's from the grain, like the animals in factory farming are fed, and then get passed onto you in the food chain.
Since I wanted some healthy beans in my stew, I decided to open the bag of the Rancho Gordo heirloom cannellini beans I had in the pantry. These are some gorgeous looking big white beans! Look at that fabulous graphic on the package. Ultra cool! Check out the Rancho Gordo website for all sorts of recipes and tips about their heirloom bean collection. Below I will also post their video instructions for soaking beans. I soaked my beans overnight. They recommend that you add the soaking water as well to your bean dish, instead of dumping it in the sink, because the vitamins are in the water.
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with Rancho Gordo Cannellini Beans
1/3 cup dry (Rancho Gordo) cannellini beans soaked in spring water over night (or for 6 hours) Save the soak water.
1 whole large onion chopped
5 carrots chopped
4 celery stalks chopped handful of mushrooms chopped
1/3 Tsp. coconut oil ( I used Tropical Traditions Gold Label)
1 box low sodium organic vegetable broth
1 16 oz bottle of spring water (optional)
About a Tsp. each of sage, garam masala, cumin, sunny paris, mural of flavor ( I use Penzey's spices)
3-6 large leaves red chard (or Kale or spinach) torn into pieces.
Optional add ins:
Pastured free range - (for real) chicken pieces and chicken broth from slow cooker (2 cups) Corn or any other frozen veggie you have that needs to be used up before a storm!
Let's get this pot-o-everything started! After cooking the chicken, I placed the broth and the falling off the bone chicken pieces into separate glass containers in the fridge. Before bed I made sure to soak my beans in spring water.
Next day I was ready to make the bean, chicken and vegetable stew.
I started with the usual mirepoix items. Onions, celery and carrots chopped. All items are organic, I am not messing around with chemicalized produce. I had breast cancer, and you must get serious about what you put inside of you to eat, as well as pay attention to the environmental factors that play into this epidemic. Along with avoiding regular supermarket produce, I will not shop any local farms that are not organic, just because it is a local farm. Pesticides and fungicides are the same toxins even if it's local poisons and toxins. Must be organic. Period.
I rarely use oils in my life now, but I was happy to use this Coconut Oil by Tropical Traditions. Just a smidgen went a long way. Plus it did not burn the pot when I added the mirepoix. Great! I then put the assorted spices into my cook pot and finished the light saute of the veggies. I hope you can see what a small dot of coconut oil I used in the photo below! Look closely!
At this point I was crying from the strength of the onion. On goes the exhaust fan, the constant dabbing of my eyes, and washing my hands. Time to add the veggie broth and 2 cups of my chicken broth from the crock-pot prep in the fridge (fat has been skimmed off the cold broth). If at anytime you think the stew needs some spring water you can add that as some of the liquid evaporates. You could also just add 2 boxes of veggie broth if you have no chicken stock. You decide what to do according to your pot size, and what you have on hand.
In went the pre-soaked beans, the chopped mushrooms, and some big chicken pieces for the hubby, who still eats meat products. Transition from certain foods is a process, and I support everyone where they are on the journey. I will pick most of the chicken out of my bowl, it does not bother me that the broth is half chicken at all.
I checked the freezer to see what else I had hiding inside by the way of veggies that should be used before the storm. A small bag of organic sweet corn sat on the shelf, so I put in half of that bag. I also had some fresh red chard and tore up 4 leaves to add in the soup/stew mix too. Looking good! I let the mixture simmer till the cannellini beans felt cooked, about 3 - 4 hours. The house smells wonderful. Just before serving you can add more fresh chard pieces so they remain whole and do not disintegrate into the soup/stew.
This is warm goodness for the rain, wind and dreariness. It is up to you if you make this strictly vegetarian or add chicken. It works either way! Now serve and enjoy for a few days! Going to rain and rain and rain...go relax, you deserve it. Stay safe!
For dessert have a crisp autumn apple! Below is the Rancho Gordo Video I promised you.