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  • Writer's pictureTommy Centola

Cook up good, down-home comfort food

It is said that if you don’t like the weather in Arkansas, wait five minutes and it will change. As I type this, the weather is 50 degrees, which for some people from New Orleans means soup weather. I don’t care what the weather is outside, I’m always ready for a good cup or bowl of soup.

As you know, New Orleans is home to gumbo. There are so many other soups that frequent tables around the area. Today I want to share with you two of them. They are not fancy, just good down home comfort food, White Beans and Sausage and Potato Soup. Gather up your ingredients, and Let’s head to the kitchen!

White Beans and Sausage

White beans and rice are traditionally served in New Orleans neighborhood restaurants on Thursdays. While not as popular as red beans, there are many who prefer white beans. Since I have shared a recipe for Red Bean Soup, I felt it was time to give equal time to white beans.

1/2 pound smoked sausage, sliced 1/4-inch thick

1/2 pound salt pork, chopped

4 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped

1 cup chopped yellow onion

1/2 cup chopped celery

3 (16 ounce) cans white beans, drained

44 ounces chicken stock

1 (10 ounce) can tomatoes with green chilies, drained

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

In a large Dutch oven, cook sausage over medium-high heat until browned; remove and drain. Add salt pork, and cook until brown; remove and drain. Add bacon, and cook until browned. Remove, and drain, reserving at least 3 tablespoons of drippings in the pan.Add onion and celery, and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 8 minutes. Add beans, stock, tomatoes with green chilies, reserved sausage. salt pork and bacon. and stir to combine. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and cayenne. Serve warm.

Potato Soup

Potato soup is one of the most popular restaurant soups. It is a very easy soup to make at home. Your family will think you spend all day making this tasty and comforting soup.

Potatoes (6-8 depending on the size)

2 ounces Liquid Crab Boil (optional)

1/2 cup onion, diced

7 cups chicken stock

2 cups water

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/8 teaspoon dry basil

1/8 teaspoon sugar

1/2 pound butter

3/4 cup flour

1 1/2 heavy cream

Put the potatoes in a large pot and cover with enough water to reach 3 inches above the potatoes. Add crab boil. Boil the potatoes, peel and set aside. In a large soup pot, melt the butter over a medium- low heat. Add the onion and cook until softened. Add the flour and cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Slowly add the chicken stock, water, salt, pepper, basil, and sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring often with a wire whisk. Gradually add the heavy cream until you have reached the desired consistency. Chop the potatoes into bite-sized cubes and add to the soup. Simmer for approximately 5 minutes to bring the potatoes to temperature. If you wish, you can garnish the soup with chopped bacon, chopped chives and shredded cheese.

In these times of inflation, soups are a great way to stretch you food dollar. They are not overly expensive to make and can be used for a few meals. To me the best things about soup are, of course, the taste and the comfort I feel while eating it. When it’s cold, it also warms your body. What are you waiting for? Go spread some love and make some soup!

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