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Monday, December 21, 2009

Soup, Corn, Bread & new Solstice Traditions

I think I've begun a new tradition in our home...making soup to celebrate the Solstice! I made a nice, autumn soup for the Autumnal Solstice...and now...a fiery, earthy, hearty stew to ring in the Winter Solstice! This time I also baked up a rustic loaf of bread to go with it. Yup. I believe I will make it a tradition to include a seasonal soup in my Solstice meal from here on out. Tonight will be the longest night of the year...and I will cozy up around the Yule log warming my bones and my soul in anticipation of the renewal of the sun...because after this long winter night...the days are going to begin to get longer. Traditionally, corn in its many forms has been an important part of the Native American (I try to source my Cherokee roots and incorporate them in my life and cooking as much as possible) diet. My stew uses corn in three forms...sweet kernel corn, yellow hominy and white, its fire comes from the use of those earthy, dried chile peppers...and another Native American staple, squash. And in contrast to the heat of the stew is a traditional Anadama Corn Bread, made with ground corn...or cornmeal. It is made with molasses and has a beautiful, complex flavor that hints at subtle sweetness. The combination of the stew and bread make a very sustaining meal to last you through this long, cold night.
Fiery Squash & Three-Corn Stew
yield: ~3 1/2 qts. 

 1 Tbs. bacon fat 
1 medium onion, sliced 
3 cloves garlic, peeled 
1 ancho chile*, seed, stem & brush clean, then torn into strips 
1 morita chile*, seed, stem & brush clean, then torn into strips 
~1 lb. squash (pumpkin, butternut or any other hearty orange squash), peel & dice** 
1/2 tsp. dried thyme 
1/2 tsp. ground cumin 
freshly ground black pepper, to taste 
~1 1/2 qt. chicken stock, divided 
1 (15.5 oz.) can white hominy, drain & rinse 
1 (15.5 oz.) can yellow hominy, drain & rinse 
1 (12-14 oz.) can sweet corn, drain 

 In a medium pot, heat bacon grease over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until soft, ~3 minutes. Add chiles and working quickly, cook until they just begin to blister & change shades, ~30 seconds. Once they've changed, quickly add in your squash, thyme, cumin and black pepper. Stir around for ~2 more minutes. Pour in ~ 1 quart of stock and bring to a boil. 

Reduce heat to a simmer and let cook until squash is soft, ~10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and puree using an immersion blender (or alternately in a blender and add back to pot). 

Add all three corns and return to a simmer for another ten minutes or so. Check during simmer, you may need to add some of the reserved stock to loosen if the stew has become too thick. 

Spoon into bowls and serve with Anadama Bread on the side. 

*When I say fiery, I mean FIERY!! Halve the amount of chiles you use if you don't like so much heat. **alternately, you could use squash pureeAnadama Corn Bread 
from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg, M.D., & Zoe Francois 
yield: 4, 1 lb. loaves 

1 1/2 c. cornmeal 
1/4 c. wheat germ 
2 1/4 c. whole wheat flour 
3 c. unbleached AP flour 
1 1/2 Tbs. granulated yeast (2 packets) 
1 Tbs. Kosher salt 
1/4 c. vital wheat gluten 
3 1/2 c. lukewarm water 
1/2 c. molasses 

 Um...this is a really long recipe to write out (not to make...just to type out), so I'm just going to recommend you buy this book! If you are a bread baker...or a wanna-be bread will not be disappointed. It is largely responsible for me overcoming my fear of yeast! Just click on title above. I'm sending this over to Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for Souper Sundays this week! Wishing you all a blessed Yule!