Wood Stove Cooking: Simmer a Winter Dinner

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PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
A pot of soup doing a slow simmer—that's wood stove cooking.

Well, although the evenings may still be warm enough to
lure an occasional firefly into flashin’, we all know that
cold weather won’t be long in comin’.

And most of us are also pretty danged certain that the
winter of 1979/1980 will be marked with more energy
problems–such as high heating fuel prices (and
limited availability), power outages, and so
forth–than any cold season in recent memory.

That very strong possibility means that owning some sort of
wood-burning stove–even if the appliance is only to
be used as backup for your regular heating and cooking
systems–makes better sense than ever!

So if you’re one of those folks who don’t have a
“timber-powered” heater, you should know that there’s still
time to build yourself a “$500 wood stove” (for less than
$41!) using MOTHER EARTH NEWS’ plans. For those men and women
who already own a wood-burning wonder and want to give wood stove cooking a try, we’d like to share a
way to use it–while it’s heating your
home–to whip up a hearty and nutritious winter dinner.

In the Grand Tradition

In most country kitchens of the not-so-distant past (in the
United States and many other nations as well), the
“pot-au-feu”–a long-simmered, savory kettleful of
good foods–occupied a prominent position on “the back
burner” of the family cook stove.

The traditional soup could be made with any of an almost
infinite number of recipes, or it might be simply a tasty
combination of leftovers. But–regardless of the
fixin’s used–the slow-simmer cooking method resulted
in an overall blend of flavor yet still allowed the
individual taste of each separate ingredient to “shine on
through”.

Why not take advantage of the chilly days ahead ( and of
your home-warming wood stove) to try out some simmered-soup
recipes of your own? The innards-soothing minestrone
“formula” that follows should serve to get you started.

Make a Marvelous Minestrone

Start your soup by preparing (or removing from your
freezer) 2 quarts of stock, either beef or hearty
vegetable.

Now fry 2 thinly sliced onions and 1/2 clove
of garlic in I/4 cup of olive (or other vegetable) oil
until the onion turns yellow and translucent. (You can save
yourself some pot-washing if you sauté the
ingredients right in your soup kettle.)

Once the onions are ready, add 2 cups of chopped spinach, 2
cups of “slawed” cabbage, and 3 or 4 chopped carrots.
Simmer the vegetables over low heat for about 5 minutes, adding more oil if necessary and taking care that the
ingredients don’t get too brown.

Then add 1 can of tomatoes (the can size will depend upon
how “tomato-y” you want your soup to be), a couple of
dashes of sage, 1 teaspoon of dried parsley, 1 cup of
cooked kidney beans, 1 cup of cooked peas, and salt and
pepper to taste. Stir the soup well, add 1/2 cup of
uncooked rice, and mix in the previously prepared soup
stock.

Let the pot simmer for at least 2 hours–adding more
stock (or water or tomato juice) if the soup begins to get
too thick for your taste–and serve the
cold-weather treat with a topping of grated Parmesan
cheese.