- Linda Lyzenga
Well into the afternoon, my friend and I found ourselves famished. In need of some food right now! Our leisurely day had lacked the planning and foresight to find a restaurant along the way. Hungry and with a long drive before us, we seemed to have no choice but to get to the first place we came across. A little hole in the wall jumped out at us as we headed towards the highway and home. It didn’t look like much but the smoky cloud suspended around the place on this chilly early summer day invited us to check it out. We found ourselves inside a hospitable little bistro. Our server suggested that day’s special – a bowl of their signature soup.
Service was quick and we were more than ready to satisfy the demands of our growling stomachs. The soup however was too hot to eat and so we found that what had driven us to the tyranny of the urgent had suddenly ground to a halt. There we sat – soup spoons in hand hovering over the bowls as we looked at the contents - almost swooning over the tempting aroma. Breathing in that distinctive smell, I began to take note of the ingredients that made for all this anticipated goodness. Cannellini beans ginned up at me as they swam in a beefy broth amidst generous chunks of Roma tomatoes, carrots, celery and onion. Hearty slices of Kielbasa contrasted with finely shredded green cabbage. As I took my first bite I noticed there were some very subtle flavors going on beside the obvious. The Kielbasa was roasted. Its crispy edge brought out the robust flavor and oh, boy, was that good! My taste buds were keen on deciphering other ingredients that were being suggested. Some garlic – yes. Just the right amount of saltiness and seasoning. What else? Basil. Oregano. Fresh ground pepper. A hint of something brightened up the blend of flavors – white wine? Yes – just a splash. Might I say that I savored every spoonful. As I did so, I jotted down the list of ingredients on my napkin – thinking that perhaps I might possibly replicate this yummy culinary experience at home.
Now, let me tell you that I did play around a bit later that week and found that I came pretty close to reproducing a soup every bit as good as what was enjoyed that day.
Since then, I’ve altered a few of the main ingredients and made the whole process easier.
Simply opening a jar of Great Northern beans will make do just as well as going through the long process of cooking raw cannellini beans. The Kielbasa has been substituted with gluten free chicken sausage as I don’t eat pork any more. But I have not forsaken roasting the sausage. That crispy edge is essential. Since the chicken sausage has its own spicy flavor the spices can be adjusted according to taste. When I shared this soup with a friend recently, I bemoaned the fact that I didn’t have any white wine on hand and that one bright ingredient was lacking. She couldn’t tell the difference and enjoyed two bowls full! Seems one can’t go wrong with this concoction – however it comes out. Have some fun with this recipe – make it your own signature soup. Enjoy the process. I’d love to hear how you experienced this offering. The recipe follows (take note that there are many options available here. Read the prep and process to guide your ingredient selections):
Fresh prep and process for Bistro Signature Soup
Plan on about an hour and a half. Enjoy some culinary creativity.
Carrots -1 cup
Shredded cabbage – 2 cups
Chop 1 small bunch fresh parsley
Slice 1 pound gluten free sausage links no less than ¼ inch thick & roast in a bit of olive oil for ~ ½ hour in a preheated oven at 350.
While the sausage is roasting, bring 64 oz. low sodium Beef Broth to a simmer in a stock pot.
With the veggies added to the broth, simmer until the carrots are tender.
Add 1 can diced tomatoes (or, if you’re feeling really adventurous, you might want to add some fresh Roma tomatoes which could have been roasted alongside the sausage with a bit of olive oil – in a separate pan, of course. (I thought of that just now - yum))
Next, add the jar of Great Northern beans – drained and rinsed.
By now the sausage should be nicely roasted so carefully add that to the pot.
A few ingredients remain and these can be added to taste (especially if the chicken sausage is spicy):
Fresh ground Pepper
Last, but not least – the splash of white wine – about ¼ cup.
Bring the soup back to a nice simmer for another half hour and serve.
Linda is passionate about wholeness and healing and finds her sweet spot in the role of Spiritual Director.
Married with two adult daughters, who have flown the coup – far from Western Michigan where they grew up, she’s home alone with her husband of 39 years.
Before Jim retires next year, Linda, who is a lifelong learner, will have completed a new course of learning with the Allender Center for the Lay Counseling Certificate Program. Soon after that, they’re off – visiting their kids and exploring the country in their RV. Then and now, you’ll find her practicing yoga, baking, reading, hiking, and writing.