Party Hearty!

On a damp and blustery winter day, when the sky is the color of oyster shells, there’s nothing quite so comforting as a pot of soup or stew simmering on the stove or sputtering in the oven, warming the kitchen while soothing the soul. Hearty and filling fare accompanied by country bread and red wine is an effective antidote to the gloom of gray days and early evenings.

The recipes this month are for the simple one-pot preparations I like to eat this time of year — a soup, a stew and two dishes that combine meat or chicken with vegetables. The recipes are simple and require little preparation, perhaps leaving enough time to bake a pie or some cookies, both of which are especially welcome anytime, but particularly now.

The red bean soup is a homey dish, but when dressed up with a garnish of yogurt or sour cream, a dash of cayenne and snipped chives, it is elegant enough for a dinner party. An early Louisiana cookbook admonished that red bean soup should always be served with croutons, so that is also an option.

Beef stew is one of those dishes that sometimes has detractors who have eaten too many bad versions, but it can be superb, if properly made. This recipe takes a couple of hours to cook, but most of that time it doesn’t require close attention.

Carrots, parsnips, rutabaga, turnips and sweet potatoes are roasted with pork in a dish that captures the best of winter vegetables. If you can find them, use a mixture of different colored carrots (purple, yellow and red, as well as orange) for a really beautiful presentation. You could also add winter squash to the mix.

Chicken thighs offer the cook a wide range of possibilities. Here they are combined with green olives, pearl onions, lemon and orzo, the rice-shaped pasta. The orzo can be omitted and the dish served with rice, quinoa or another grain, if desired. In fact, all of these recipes can be altered to suit your own taste.


2 pounds boneless country style ribs, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Cajun/Creole seasoning
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary or 1 tablespoon dried, chopped
8 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch lengths
4 parsnips, peeled and cut into 2-inch lengths
1 rutabaga, peeled and thickly sliced
2 turnips, peeled and thickly sliced
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and thickly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 450 F and grease a roasting pan.
2. Place pork, soy sauce, Cajun/Creole seasoning and rosemary in a bowl and toss to combine. Add to roasting pan.
3. Place vegetables in a bowl with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss to combine.
4. Spread vegetables over pork in roasting pan.
5. Roast until vegetables are tender, about 30 to 40 minutes.
Makes 4 servings.


2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
2 pounds beef chuck cut into 1-inch cubes
2 onions, chopped
1 cup beef stock or broth
½ cup red wine
1 tablespoon dark roux
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 pound carrots, peeled and sliced
1 pound baby potatoes, quartered or halved
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat oil in large casserole dish. Add meat and cook on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until browned. Add onions and cook until softened.
2. In a small pot, bring stock and wine to a boil. Add roux and whisk to dissolve. Add to casserole dish along with tomato paste, bay leaf and thyme. Cover, reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until meat is tender, about 2 hours.
3. Add carrots and potatoes, season to taste with salt and pepper, cover and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes. Adjust seasoning.
Makes 6 servings.


1 pound small red beans
6 cups water
2 cups chicken stock or broth
large pinch baking soda
1 onion, chopped
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
dollop plain yogurt or sour cream

1. Combine beans, water, stock or broth, baking soda and onion in a large, heavy pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, until beans are tender, about 2 hours.
2. Using an immersion blender or standard blender, puree soup until smooth. Season to taste with salt, black pepper and cayenne.
3. Serve hot, garnished with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream, a sprinkling of cayenne and snipped chives.


4 boneless chicken thighs
Cajun/Creole seasoning
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chicken stock or broth
4 lemon slices
24 pearl onions, peeled
24 green olives
1 tablespoon lemon juice
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup orzo

1. Pat chicken thighs dry with paper toweling, then sprinkle liberally with Cajun/Creole seasoning.
2. Add olive oil to a large, nonreactive skillet, place chicken thighs, skin side down in pan and cook on medium heat until nicely browned, about 6 to 8 minutes. Turn chicken and brown on the other side, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove chicken from pan and pour off fat.
3. Add chicken stock or broth and scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Return chicken thighs to pan and place a slice of lemon on each thigh. Add onions, olives and lemon juice to pan and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, cook orzo according to package instructions. Drain orzo, reserving some of the cooking water.
5. When chicken is done, remove thighs from pan and add orzo. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer orzo for a minute or two to meld flavors, adding some of the cooking water, if necessary. Return chicken to pan and serve.
Makes 4 servings.

Cooking Tip

Soaking beans overnight, as some recommend, reduces the cooking time, but it means that you have to think ahead. You can also cover beans with water, bring the water to a boil, turn off the heat and let them soak for an hour or two. A small amount of baking soda can reduce the cooking time, particularly in hard water.




Categories: Recipes