...if you have a backyard and a kitchen, this blog might be for you!

a chronicle of tips and recipes on everything from gardening to canning and baking your produce, even if you're planted in suburbia...in fact, especially if you are planted in suburbia.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Kitchen Pilgrimage to Charlottesville, Virginia

While last month's Kitchen Pilgrimage took us west to a suburban Texas kitchen, this month's takes us east nearly as far to a kitchen in Charlottesville, Virginia. My husband's best friend for 40 years, John has a kitchen well worth the visit. I asked him to set the stage for our imaginary visit before we read about what he's cooking. Here's what he had to say:
My kitchen is in a near century-old farmhouse in downtown Charlottesville, Va. It is a practical place with long counters designed for the experimental cook who is prone to have two to three projects underway at a time. My window looks onto a shaded lawn and small houses across the street that were farmland barely 60 years ago when horses and cars shared narrow streets. Out the backdoor is a view of Jefferson's Monticello and its gardens, where slaves worked in half-story kitchens amid the hydrangeas and other plants that are common to the mountains here in the Blue Ridge.

NORTH WOODS BEAN SOUP (pictured above)
This is a rare soup for all season, but one that is perfect for bone-chilling days. Moms love it because it is loaded with protein and iron. And it can all be done in a single large sauce pan. Here’s what you need:
- Cooking spray
- 1 cup baby carrots, halved
- 1 cup chopped onion (white, preferred)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 7 ounces turkey kielbasa, halved lengthwise and cut into half-inch pieces
- 4 cups chicken broth (low-sodium recommended)
- Half teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
- Half teaspoon black pepper
- Two cans (15.8 ounces) Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed in cool water
- 1 (6 ounce) bag of fresh baby spinach leaves

1. Prep all ingredients separately.
2. Heart large saucepan coated with cooking spray, over medium-high heat. Add carrots, onion, carrots and kielbasa and then sauté for three minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium and cook for five minutes.
3. Add broth, Italian seasoning, black pepper and Great Northern beans. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for five minutes.
4. Place two cups of soup in a food processor or blender, process until smooth. Return the pureed to the pan. Simmer an additional five minutes. Adding the puree adds body and enhances flavor.
5. Remove soup from heat. Add spinach, stirring until it wilts.
6. Begin serving immediately. This recipe will yield five servings of 1.5 cups each.

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