Hi! I’m back! I hope you had the merriest Christmas and are ready for a joyous New Year. I took a little week-and-a-half hiatus from Freckles and Figs while I was at home in Las Vegas spending time with family: learning to play Hearts, climbing through Calico Basin and Red Rock National Park, running errands with my always-busy mom, playing ball with and brushing the snarly fur of my old Border Collie Charlie, seeing the Beatles Love (best Cirque du Soleil show ever), playing Blackjack with my boyfriend and family, and eating. Always eating.
My mom likes to say she’s a “horrible” cook, but while I was home, I don’t think I was never not full, from king crab legs dipped in lemon-butter for Christmas Eve supper, to spicy tortilla soup (two versions: one for meat eaters and one for veggies, like me) complete with sour cream, chives, and shredded cheese, to scrambled eggs with green onion and sundried tomatoes with sides of fruit salad and caramel pecan rolls to feed eight. Okay – fine, the rolls were actually made by my grandma, who also insists she isn’t skilled in the kitchen, which I’d like her to argue to anyone after they’ve tasted these rolls.
It was too good of eating all week, and it was a lovely, much-needed break from work and deadlines and daily stresses. Those things were promptly replaced with lots of red wine, laughter, and schedule-less days. Happy is a feeling I’m not short of right now, even though I missed seeing a few familiar faces at home and I’m missing home now more than ever. The holidays always seem to bring about bitter-sweetness, whether they are dipped in drama and family debacle or they are made into beautiful capsules of celebration and conversation. No matter what, I always leave sad to be leaving. That’s just home, isn’t it? Anyway, nothing leaves acute homesickness at bay better than a hearty, comfort-food recipe.
Enter this chunky, flavorful, filling vegetable-lager soup. I’m on a serious soup kick right now. Usually, I can opt for a simple tomato soup from Trader Joe’s, but occasionally I need something beefier, sans the beef. You know what I mean. This one – which I made up by simply deciding I wanted to throw together a stew that had lots of vegetables, some pasta, and a beer in it and hitting the grocery store with only those items in mind – does the trick. It’s easy and warms the stomach and soul. Give it a taste!
2 tbsp. butter
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 carrot sticks, peeled and chopped
5 small gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 head of celery, chopped
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
3 c. cooked wheat rotini
32 fl. oz. vegetable broth
12 oz. lager (I used Dallas-based Lakewood Lager)
3 to 4 c. chopped kale
1 leek root, chopped
Saute the onion and garlic in the butter until cooked through (about 4 minutes). Add in the carrots, potatoes, and celery. Saute for another 5-or-so minutes. Add salt, pepper, thyme, and rosemary.
Stir in the pasta, followed by the broth and the lager. Mix ingredients together and let the mixture set on medium heat for 10 minutes.
Add in the kale and leek; let simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes (until potatoes are cooked through).
Serve with shaved parmesan and garlic toast.