Saturday, January 23, 2010

Beer, Brat and Cheese Soup

Otherwise known as Milwaukee in a Bowl Soup.

I had the pleasure of living in Wisconsin for the last few years while my hubby attended seminary. We are back home (Illinois) now but I can only recall our time in Wisconsin with longings to return. There are many things to love about Wisconsin - the every Friday night fish fry, cheese curds, a local Penzys, snow that stays for the winter, ice fishing (NOT) but it is their love of brats that took me in. AND they do 'em right - ketchup is a no-no. They are simmered in beer and onions then off to the grill they go. Then placed in a roll and topped with Dijon mustard, mayo if you like, and those onions from the initial cooking. YUM!

This soup is the best of the tastes I've come to love from Wisconsin.

Milwaukee in a Bowl: Beer, Brat and Cheese Soup
adapted from Liz's Cooking Blog Savory Spicy Sweet

3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 c. carrots, peeled and diced
1 c. celery, diced
1 c. onions, dicedd
1/3 c. flour
2 lg. potatoes, peeled and diced
6 c. stock (I used combination of beef and chicken)
12 oz. beer
1/2 tsp. cayenne or to taste
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. mustard powder
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 c. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
6 bratwurst

Simmer the brats in a little water for about 20 minutes turning frequently. Brown brats after the water simmers away. Remove from pan and slice. Add beer to the pan, scraping the little brown bits up and reducing the liquid by one half

In a Dutch oven (or other large soup pot) cook carrots, onions and celery in oil until softened - about 15 minutes. Season wit a little salt and pepper. Stir in flour and cook for a minute or two.

Add the potatoes, broth, and beer reduction to the veggies. Add garlic powder, and mustard. Simmer until the potatoes are soft, 15-20 minutes.

Remove about 2 cups of soup from pot and place in food processor - pulse until smooth. Return to pot with brats. Stir in cheese and Worcestershire sauce. Season with salt and pepper.

This soup is so rich and flavorful - heaven on earth! It needs nothing more than hot rolls and a fresh green salad to accompany it.

I promise you your family members will praise you as they raise their spoons with this delicious soup!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

My Magic Pot

This Dutch oven seems to always been a part of my home. My mom swears it was my grandma's but I have no recollection of anyone giving it to me. It is obviously very old so it could have belonged to my grandma. I guess I know in my heart it was her Dutch oven I just wish I could remember how I got it!

My inspiration for this blog is symbolized by this pot but its origin really goes back to my grandma. My grandma was one of those people who gave her love fully and unconditionally. When I was with her I knew I was loved and each of my cousins (about 50 of us) knew that special connection. I feel so bad that many families are no longer geographically close and don’t know what they have lost out on.

I did not know my grandma as a cook. She did not cook for us when we visited. When we had family gatherings, every one brought a dish. She was known for a few special dishes – fried chicken and strawberry cake but I can’t remember her as serious cook. She gave birth to ten children. One died at birth and the remaining nine more or less raised each other. My grandfather left her for another woman fairly early in their married life so grandma worked long, hard hours to put a roof over the heads of her children and food on their plates.

The roof changed often. It was very hard to find places that would rent to such a large family. Often a child or two lived with other relatives so the rest of the family could have a roof. The fatherless family ate a lot of what I call survival foods. Bread and gravy was a common dinner in their childhood home. Meat was rarely seen.

Back to the pot. What is interesting about this pot is that everything that goes in it comes out tasting absolutely wonderful! Is it the cook or is it the pot? I believe it is the pot. I mean I love to cook. It is one of the ways I show my family my love for them. My meals are filled with the flavor of life and love – and layers of seasoning! Grandma couldn’t stay at home to show her children and show them just how much she loved them. She was out working literally from dawn to dusk. Her family had to sacrifice to survive - the closeness most children know with their mothers just could not be due to a broken home. Grandma had a second chance with her grandchildren and she showed me how to love others with her unconditional love. Now, in my own way, I use her Dutch oven – my magic pot – to pass on some of the love.