DanvilleSanRamon.com

Living - January 19, 2007

Epicure: Soups and stews to warm heart and hearth

by Jacqui Love Marshall

Hearing that the Bay Area would deliver some colder-than-normal temperatures this week, my mind turned to memories of living in colder regions. While I loved watching new snow fall while snuggled in at home on a Saturday afternoon, I honestly don't miss getting up an hour early to dig the car out of its snow bank and un-freeze the car door locks. Nor do I miss the depressing evolution of white fluffy snow into dirty, wet slush that stains your boots and tires. I've repressed memories of getting stuck in the snow and I've even lost my seasonal love for wool coats, leather gloves and fur.

But, cold weather also conjures up memories of putting on a large pot of soup or stew before a winter outing so that we'd all have something warm to look forward to when we returned home half-frozen. That is a memory worth reliving this time of year. When it's cold outside, there is no dish quite as comforting as a hot bowl of soup. One-pot meals warm the tummy but also make the kitchen toasty and cozy for hours, with homey aromas to keep the "winter blues" at bay.

Once you do the prep work (cutting, slicing, etc.), soups and stews practically cook themselves ... and make after-meal cleanup easy. Depending on the appetites of your family members, adding a complementary sandwich, salad or fresh bread makes a hearty meal for lunch or dinner. Another extra benefit comes the next day - leftover soups and stews are often even tastier on days two and three ... that is, if they last that long.

Lamb, cannellini beans and orzo are three ingredients I fancy so I went in search of three dishes using them to satisfy my craving for a one-pot meal and keep the home hearth warm during the chilly spell. Hopefully, the cold weather won't last long but these recipes should get put to long-term use in your household. Snuggle up with a steaming bowl of one real soon!

Jacqui Love Marshall lives in Danville with her vintage-car-loving husband, two pugs and binders of recipes. Her column runs every other week. E-mail her at Epicure@DanvilleWeekly.com.

recipes

Orzo Soup with Turkey Parmesan Meatballs and Escarole (serves 4)

Lamb Chili (serves 4-6)

Easy Cannellini Stew (serves 4)

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