Bowls of Comfort

Throw your turkey meat in and make a delicious and hearty soup or stew. It doesn’t matter whether they simmer to perfection in a slow cooker or on the stove. And when prepared the day before, these make-ahead comfort meals are the perfect portable meal. So go ahead and simmer up a delicious dimension of soups and stews. The aroma alone is guaranteed to arouse anyone’s appetite. 

Cabbage Soup with Turkey Sausage

Ingredients

• 1 pound turkey sausage or venison sausage, chopped

• 1 medium onion, chopped

• 3 cups stock or broth from turkey, game hen or venison

• 1 cup water

• 2 cups carrots, chopped

• 4 cups cubed potatoes (Yukon Gold, white or red)

• 8 cups chopped cabbage (about 1/2 a head)

• 1 teaspoon oregano

• 1 teaspoon thyme

• 1/2 teaspoon cumin

•2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes, or 2 (141/2-ounce) cans diced or chopped tomatoes, drained

• 1/4 cup tomato paste

• Salt and pepper, to taste

• 1/3 cup finely chopped, lightly packed fresh basil

Using a large pot or Dutch oven on medium heat, cook the sausage and onions until onions are soft and sausage is cooked through (about 10 minutes). Then drain any remaining fat. Add the stock, water, carrots, potatoes, cabbage, oregano, thyme and cumin. Bring to a boil, stir and then simmer while covered for about 45 minutes or until potatoes and carrots are done.

Stir in the tomatoes and tomato paste. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and simmer for about 15 more minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the basil. Let sit for several minutes, then ladle hot soup into individual serving bowls.

Serves four to six

Essential soup tips

•The quality of stock or broth affects the flavor of a soup or stew. A good stock imparts a depth never achieved from a water-based soup. While bouillon cubes or granules may serve in a pinch, ready-made stock (usually sold in cartons by the quart) or homemade stock is always better.

•Game birds, meats and fish are the foundational ingredients for a tasty soup stock. All it takes is a pot of simmering water and a combination of meat, bones and trimmings. Add a sliced onion, a couple of celery stalks, a carrot or two, a bay leaf and any other vegetables or seasonings that sound appealing. You also can make a specialty seafood stock by using a combination of clean fish heads, shells, bones and trimmings.

•Heighten the flavor of any soup or stew by searing or browning the meat first to seal in the juices. Add even more depth by sautéing onions, celery, carrots, garlic and other vegetables in a little bit of olive oil.

•Rev up the flavor of your homemade soup with instant enhancers. A few tasty examples include a dollop or two of pesto, nut butter, miso, tomato paste or honey. Add depth with white or red wine, herbal vinegar, Worcestershire sauce or your favorite hot sauce.

•Garnishes also enhance the quality of a soup. Croutons or oyster crackers with chowders are a classic. But why stop there? Try topping soup with shredded cheese, a dollop of yogurt or a swirl of ricotta cheese. How about a sprinkling of fresh herbs, toasted nuts or seeds? Use a garnish that adds visual contrast while complementing or echoing the flavor of the soup.

•Prepared soup can be refrigerated for several days. But wait to add any cream or garnishes until the day the soup is reheated and served. You can freeze soup. Allow about an inch of space in the container for expansion.

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