Saturday, February 11, 2012

Let the Cold Winds Blow: It's Soup Night!

For some time, everyone I meet has commented on our "lack of winter weather".    It's not that we haven't had any cold weather, just not very much.    In fact, so little that I still have a few vincas growing in flower pots around the yard.    Most of that stuff gets nipped back after the first good frost and won't show a single leaf or twig until spring has arrived.    Larry planted a pineapple top way back last year and even it is still hanging in there even though he forgot it a few nights when it was pretty cold.     And to add to the confusion, many azaleas and red bud trees are already starting to show their lovely pink blossoms, even though they should still be keeping those things well tucked away for a couple more months.   

For some reason, people seem to assume that since we live in FLORI-DUH, land of eternal sunshine, palm trees and sandy beaches, we don't have winter.    What they may not realize is that we live in Northern Florida---northwest Florida to be exact.   So by rights, if things had been fair and square back when they were divvying up acreage, Alabama should have gotten the very spot where our house is built.    And come to think of it, Georgia got gypped, too, when you look a little bit east of here on any good U.S. map.    So while we often have mild winters, that is not the same as NO winter.    If you want to live where people often don't even have heaters in their homes (since they seldom need them), you gotta go about 900 miles south of here to Ft. Lauderdale or Miami.    

So the season we call winter has been here since last December but our weather has been anything but normal this year.    We've had many days that were more like spring than the cold, shivering type of weather we would expect.    In fact, it has been so warm, that I suspect the beach has seen a surge of locals driving down to watch the surf roll in since that is only a 25-30 minute drive for most of us in this area.    And while they were there, it's a sure thing that they'd have seen a group of hearty surfers in their wet suits livin' it up while the sun was shining and the temperature was mild.       

In the middle of this past week, I thought I heard the weather man say that a cold front was coming our way.    But about as often as they say that, they turn around in a day or two and say, "Never mind. It won't reach us."     What that means is that we have to pay close attention as the time gets closer just in case they change their minds at Weather Central....AGAIN.    And that is exactly what happened.    

Yesterday we happened to flip the TV over to channel 324, which is the "Local Weather Scan" ...a handy little feature of The Weather Channel.    It runs 24/7 with only local weather, changing screens every few minutes to tell you the pollen count, what kind of Golf Index we're going to have, what the tides are running and, OH, yeah, what the temperature, winds and forecast is expected to be for the next few days.     And there it was:   Bright orange background, bold letters....Small Craft Advisory and Freeze Warning.    Expect near RECORD LOWS tonight!    

Once again winter has pulled a sneaky trick on us and has let us know that winter is still here and has not retreated to the far north.     The winds all day have been out of the NNW at a brisk 20-30 mph which means there are white caps on the Bay, leaves flying in 40 directions and tonight, with no cloud cover to hold in the heat, it's gonna be cold, Baby, cold!    I suspect with the wind chill it will easily be 20 or so.     I don't know about you, but for me that is cold and means one thing will work for supper.    Soup!!  

After checking out the pantry and refrigerator, I found the makings for a simple soup that we like called Turkey Sausage, Bean and Kale Soup.    It only takes a few minutes to chop the veggies and then you can add some fully cooked turkey sausage, chicken broth and let it simmer.    When it's almost done you may add some kale and a can of beans.   I use the curly leaf kind of kale but I guess almost any kind would do.  You could probably use fresh spinach, too, and it would be delicious.   

So here is the recipe for Turkey Sausage, Bean and Kale Soup:

1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
2 ribs of celery, thinly sliced
2 large cloves of garlic (not pods!), chopped
2 carrots, sliced or diced
Fresh Parsley, chopped
1 link of Smoked Turkey Sausage (I used Oscar Mayer brand for this batch)
  (add more if you like more sausage)
1 tsp. of Curry Powder (I used McCormick Brand)
32 oz. chicken broth (Fat Free and Low Sodium is what I use)
1 TBS. of Chicken Base (I use Better Than Bouillon)
1 can Beans (Navy, Great Northern, drained---may use whatever bean you like, actually)
 1/2 of a small bunch of Curly Leaf Kale, washed and chopped

Chop veggies and saute in olive oil until onion is transparent.   Add sliced sausage and cook until it has browned a little.  (Push veggies to side of pot so sausage can touch the bottom of pan.)  Add chicken broth, chicken base, curry powder, pepper to taste.     Simmer for 45 minutes to an hour.     Add kale after you strip it from the main rib of the leaf and roughly chop leaves.  You can add the beans at this time, too.  Allow to simmer for 15 or 20 more minutes.    Serve over brown rice, quinoa or by itself with some crusty bread to soak up the good juices.

So there you have it.    A simple meal for a cold winter's night.    Kinda glad this cold snap came along when it did.    We'll enjoy our
soup, have a fire in the fireplace, maybe play some Phase 10 and not let the cold weather phase us.     In a few days, we'll be back to warmer temps and will be marveling at how cold it was just a few days ago.    We're lucky and we know it.    Our search for the good life reminds us again and again that usually it's the simple things in life that give the best rewards.  

 Hope things are going well for you, wherever you are.  And give that soup a try one of these 
 days or especially on a cold, winter's night. 

Happy Trails,



  1. Thanks, Marcia, I'll have to try your recipe. We have a pot of chili simmering on the stove right now. Yes, it's after 10 and we still haven't eaten! We're expecting a low of 11 tonight - Mother Nature's cruel little trick - so chili and soup are on the menu this weekend.


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