It's crazy, isn't it, how all the food people are telling us how to cook our turkeys? tempting us with perfect sides? getting us to rethink dessert a dozen times? wondering whether you should offer an appetizer?
Well here's my simple advice. Make soup. Yes, you read that right, MAKE SOUP. Not for Thanksgiving dinner itself but so that before you start cooking for the big day, there is something in the fridge that can be eaten on Wednesday night or a light lunch, all before everyone sits down to the table to give thanks.
American Thanksgiving is next week, my food world is all a-flutter but I’m hoping for low-key this year, something simple.
But one thing I know? The first thing I’ll make on Wednesday, before gearing up for all the day-before Thanksgiving cooking? A big pot of hearty soup.
SLOW COOKERS I know, I know, you’d like to know if this soup can be made in a slow cooker. It just might – I’d recommend 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low. But the honest answer is that I’m tired of slow cookers not saving but sabotaging dinner.
UNRELIABLE HEAT, HOT & COLD For 20 years, I loved a West Bend slow cooker – a smallish slow cooker with a stovetop-safe nonstick cooker for browning – but it went kaput awhile back.
I bought two or three slow cookers in quick succession – one lid broke; one was just too hot. I bought a promising set of three stackable cookers (medium, large, huge) with a single base, all of them run hot.
Then I learned West Bend still sells a version of my long-time favorite slow cooker and ordered one on the spot. Acck – what a disappointment: the base got warm but not hot, nothing would cook. West Bend replaced the base and the new one seems to work fine. But I remain wary, one eye on the slow cooker, another on the pizza delivery number.
TEXTURE One more thing. I sense a texture and “layers of flavor” difference between slow cookers and stovetop or oven cooking. Slow cookers seem to just meld everything together into a kind of messy one-ness. Convenient? Sure. But with a notable loss in good food.
GIVING UP? But I haven’t given up. Last spring I bought two highly vaunted slow cooker cookbooks and vow to keep trying new recipes throughout the winter. If you have one you love, I’d sure appreciate it if you’d share the recipe.
EASY CHICKEN TORTILLA SOUP or EASY TURKEY TORTILLA SOUP RECIPE
Time to table: 3 hours
Makes 9 cups
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 ribs celery, trimmed & diced
- 15 ounces canned black beans, rinsed and drained
- 15 ounces canned corn
- 15 ounces canned diced tomatoes
- 15 ounces (2 cups) chicken stock
- 8 ounces canned mild green chiles
- 1 cup mild salsa
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1-1/2 tablespoons cumin
- 4-1/2 cups cooked chicken, rotisserie chicken or cooked turkey
FOR SERVING, OPTIONAL
- Baked Corn Tortilla Strips
- Grated cheddar cheese, sour cream or guacamole
In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt butter until shimmery. Add celery and cook just until soft. Add black beans, corn, tomatoes, stock, chiles, salsa, garlic and cumin. Bring to a boil, add the cooked chicken or turkey.
STOVETOP Let simmer on the stoveop for 2 hours, adjusting heat as necessary to maintain a slow simmer.
OVEN Place in a 225F oven for 2 hours.
TO SERVE Spoon soup into bowls, top with a sprinkle of cheddar, a dollop of sour cream and guacamole and a few corn tortilla strips.
This Week, Years Past 2002 - 2011
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This Week, Elsewhere
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