This amazing soup came together as an effort to use up some of the stuff left in my freezer in preparation for the coming growing season, with a dash of desperation. Spicy sausage, filling quinoa and lentils, sweet and tangy winter greens and a very rich broth make this soup as much a staple of survial as it is a warming treat on any cold day.
It was your atypical southeastern winter day. We were preparing to be pummeled by the first of two different snow events, and I was unprepared. I read the reports, I knew what the predictions were, and especially after seeing what happened even further south I knew I probably should be heeding these grave warnings of Snowpocalypse 2014.
Anyone who has experienced even the hint of a snow event here in the south knows that the worst of it is before the snow or ice begins to fall. The grocer’s becomes a vicious frenzy, resembling a pack of starving hyenas descending on a weak or injured zebra. The sun is still out and temperatures are still above freezing, but people -who aren't very courteous on the road, anyway- are driving like the world has already ended and they're the star in a Zombie movie trying to get through the horde to some "safe zone" outside of town. Schools shuttered, and states of emergency declared, all before a single cloud appeared in the sky. This chaos did not interest me.
Still, I braved the liquor store. I anticipated that even though nothing was likely to happen, the state of emergency would at the very least keep the package stores closed. On the way, considering the light traffic, I pondered a quick grocery run knowing that most of the violence would be contained to the bread and milk aisles. After the half-hour wait in the package store amongst my fellow survivors-to-be, most of them agitated, some practically foaming at the mouth, I scrapped the idea of the grocer’s.
Hours later, I sat sipping on Elijah Craig neat -my favorite drink- after dinner. I looked out the window. Three inches of snow covered the ground, and it was coming down fast. I had misjudged this, entirely. Snow would fall throughout the night, grinding our fair, rural, southern township to an absolute halt.
Fearing that I would lose power, but knowing that I could still cook on my gas-range, the next morning (snow still coming down) I started cooking. I pulled from my freezer and dry storage for the ingredients here, knowing that if I could at least get most of it to freeze up before the power went out that I could just reheat-and-eat. Should the outage have lasted longer than normal, a cooler full of snow would have kept this and other things in good shape until the lights returned. I never lost power, but nonetheless made and froze a whole mess of this stuff, and weeks later after just having it for lunch; I thought I should share the recipe.