The weather in Vermont has been SUPER depressing lately. With so much rain, the garden is absolutely saturated (for the 3rd week in a row, it seems) and I have barely had a chance to improve my tan since summer vacation (for students and teachers) began. This kind of weather makes me want to eat hot food again, rather than fresh summer salads. On Monday, I actually broke out the slow-cooker… Then last night, my husby and I drove to Manchester, NH, to see the Goo Goo Dolls and Matchbox 20 (since we SO love 90’s music!!), then drove back — almost completely in the rain.
(It was tricky to take photos with all of the snazzy lights, but here’s some proof that we were there! – photo is by my husby)
The white-knuckle trip down to Manchester included crossing a flooded section of I-89 (flashback to playing Oregon Trail — “Do you want to ford the river?!” and that dreaded two-chord alarm sound), going through another section of I-89 that had been washed out by rain and the pavement was breaking away in chunks, and hours of driving in low-visibility fog on the way back when the rain finally stopped. We made it back (super-late) in one piece, and woke up to find MORE RAIN this morning!!
After yet another drive through torrential rain, I found myself in my parents’ kitchen this afternoon, doing the ever-so-predictable “let’s check out what’s in the fridge” routine. I was surprised (no, wait — shocked) to find no leftovers, which is bizarre in my parents’ house. Knowing that they both had a busy day today and a busy rest-of-the-week, I set out looking for ingredients.
To be honest with you, this is the type of cooking I really have fun with. It requires no shopping, no recipe, usually a basic idea to start with, and then the process of changing that idea as I go through the fridge and cabinets. I’d like to think of this as “adventure cooking,” since it always starts the same, but always has a different destination. Today’s beginning idea was sprouted in the canned goods area of the cabinet… As always, my parents have canned corn and canned beans on hand. Corn… + beans… = succotash!
The word succotash comes from the Narragansett (Native American) word msíckquatash, meaning “boiled corn kernels” [source], and most often features corn and some type of beans. This soup started out (in my head) with both of those ingredients and grew as I explored my parents’ fridge and kitchen cabinets.
Rainy Day Succotash Soup
- extra virgin olive oil (twice around the pan)
- 2 small onions (or 1 medium onion and 1 shallot)
- 2 medium carrots
- 2 ribs of celery
- 1 poblano pepper
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 2 cups of cabbage
- 1 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 teaspoon each of ground chili pepper, ground cumin, and ground coriander
- 12 turns of pepper (with a grinder)
- 3 cups of chicken (or veggie) stock
- 2 cups of water
- 2 small zucchini
- 1 (15 oz) can of sweet corn (low-sodium is best)
- 1 (15 oz) can of black beans (be SURE to rinse these well so you don’t get a murky stock)
- splash of lime juice
- small handful of fresh cilantro
- In a big soup pot, add the oil and turn to medium heat.
- Dice your onions, quarter and chop your carrots, and dice your celery – add them to the pot.
- Stir to coat and let them sizzle away.
- Dice your poblano and add it to the pot.
- Stir to coat and let it sizzle some more.
- Mince your garlic and add it to the pot.
- Stir it up again.
- Chop your cabbage (like you were making slaw) and add it to the pan. (I know it look s like a lot, but it will wilt a bit.)
- Add your salt & spices.
- Stir to coat everything.
- Let it sizzle away for about 5 minutes, stirring it every minute or so.
- Now add your stock and water.
- Quarter and chop the zucchinis. Add them to the pot.
- Let it come up to a bubble, then turn down the heat a tad.
- Add your corn and beans.
- Stir it all together.
- Let it come up to a bubble again, then set your timer for 20 minutes.
- During the 20 minutes, stir it every 3-4 minutes.
- When the time’s up, add the splash of lime.
- Check the broth for seasoning, and add more salt or pepper, if needed.
- Turn off the heat, chop the cilantro and stir it in gently.
- Let it sit for 5-10 minutes before serving it.
- Garnish with cilantro leaves & enjoy!
You could serve it with crusty bread and a salad on the side for extra veggie-ness, but frankly, I don’t think it needs a thing! It’s fresh, warm, a little sweet, a bit savory, and quite satisfying on its own. Not bad at all for an “I don’t have a clue what to make” situation. =)
*Note – If the purple-y color freaks you out a bit, you could use green cabbage.