Thursday, March 24, 2011

Chickpea, Butternut Squash and Sausage Soup

It is cold and rainy in San Francisco.  I know that statement might deserve a big-fat raspberry from my Northwest, Midwest and Eastern seaboard friends but hey - for us it's miserable weather.
There I was with 2 quarts of celery root stock in my fridge, a desire to cook some chickpeas (not from a can - although I won't dis' you if you use canned but you're missing out on so much!  Who am I kidding? I'm definitely going to judge you if you don't cook your own chickpeas at least once.), a need use up a couple of sweet Italian sausage and a couple of chorizo sausages, a little butternut squash and some of the sauteed kale, onion and roasted lemon dish I made a few days ago. Oh - and leeks.

Back to the chickpeas.  Just as I was very pleasantly surprised when I made the celery root stock, the pot liquor from the first time I cooked chickpeas was a delicious revelation! I generally soak mine overnight and then simmer them with a couple of bay leaves until they are tender - not completely mushy - add a little salt to the water, stir then turn off the heat and leave the cover on until they cool down. I started with two cups (dried) chickpeas.  Those I didn't use for the soup will be roasted for a snack.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Celery Root Stock

Whoa.

So I had two celery roots in my crisper and decided to cube and roast them up.  Celery root is the hairless cat of vegetables.  While a hairless cat may be a lovable, sweet kitteh, you kind of have to WANT to love it when you see it in its original form.  You can see a picture of it (celery root, a/k/a celeraic and not a hairless cat), pre-trimming here - thanks to H-bomb's Flickr pic. In fact the celeraic shown in this photo aren't as gnarly looking as some I've seen.
I trimmed and cubed them and was getting ready to dump the decidedly un-lovely trimmings in the compost bin when I thought, "Hey, would this make good stock?".  I heated up some olive oil in my 5-qt. Le Creuset, threw the trimmings in with a pinch of salt and caramelized them a bit. After a while I added a couple of quarts plus some extra of near-boiling water, brought it to a boil, turned it down to a simmer and popped the lid on.  That was about 2 hours ago.


I took it off heat at about 3.5 hours in, removed the schmutz and when it cooled down a little, strained it through a quadruple layer of cheesecloth (I scrubbed the celery root before trimming but there was still some dirt in the nooks and crannies - make sure there are no darker particulates in your stock).  I thought about reducing it but I like the delicate flavor.