Last week, the little house in the big woods was snowbound, with only the barest hint of bare ground in the backyard. While the front yard still has plenty of snow, the backyard has made real progress and now has more bare ground than snow. And all in one week!
Yesterday morning, I hung clothes on the line for the first time this season, and there was a thin layer of packed ice around the clothes line. It was so slippery that I wished I had worn my grippers. I didn’t fall, but I had to be very careful as I hung the laundry. But in the afternoon, when I took in the laundry, the ice had completely melted. It almost felt like time-lapse photography in real time.
There is much to do in the backyard, but it is still too mucky for a real clean-up. I love this time of year—working outside in the warm sun. It beats anything I can do inside, and that includes cooking or writing and most certainly cleaning.
Even though it is much warmer now than it has been since, say, October, it is still cool enough for soup and probably will be until June. This is Maine, after all. And soup—tomato chickpea—is what we will have for supper tonight.
From the four Cornish hen carcasses left over from our anniversary meal, I made a stock in the usual way—with water, onion, garlic, peppercorns, and salt. After the stock had simmered for several hours, I let it cool overnight in the refrigerator so that I could skim off the fat. In addition, I soaked 2 cups of dried chickpeas overnight and cooked them in the morning. Into the slow-cooker went the stock, the chickpeas, and a 28-ounce can of tomato puree. Since I had a lot of the tomato stock, I coarsely chopped 6 carrots and 4 ribs of celery and sauteed them with olive oil, adding 3 cloves of garlic for the last minute or so. After the vegetables were soft, I added them to the slow-cooker and let everything bubble for four hours.
Because the Cornish hens had been so wonderfully spiced, I did not need to use additional spicing in the soup. Otherwise, I would have added some rosemary and perhaps some oregano. Tonight, I’ll cook some pasta, which we can add to the bottom of our soup bowls. We have found that pasta put directly into the soup swells and swells until the pasta is quite unappealing. So now we add pasta directly to our bowls and ladle hot soup on top.
This made a huge batch of soup. Clif and I will eat it for several nights, and I’ll freeze the rest for that happy, busy day when there’s too much going on outside to fuss in the kitchen.