I hope everyone of you had a merry and blessed Christmas!
We’re posting a little late because of all the to-do in the Ridley/Graham/Rutledge family—Santa train ride in the mountains, an abundance of gift-giving and several wonderful feasts. Truly God blessed us this year.
But I’ve been thinking of each and every one of you with nostalgia and hope to have our Inspiring Cuisine book ready for you to order soon. It seems like we’ve been waiting a long time. But think how long the world waited for the promised Savior to come! Waiting is so often part of God’s plan: “Wait for the Lord, be strong and of good courage and he will strengthen your heart. ”
Soups are wonderful at this time of the year. They are an amalgam of flavor and nutrition in a single pot. I learned this recipe from a friend in Denver many years ago. The use of canned navy beans means that you can cobble the soup up in no time after you have spent the morning playing in the snow with the kids. This recipe makes a lot of soup, so if there are only two or three in your family, consider reducing the ingredients by one half.
You will need:
1 rib of Celery 1cup of Diced Ham
1 Carrot Water
½ of a Yellow Onion Salt
1 Tbs. of Butter White Pepper
2 15 oz. cans of Navy Beans 1 medium sized Russet Potato
1 bay leaf Celery Leaves for a Garnish
- Dice the carrot, celery and onion – similar in size to the beans.
- Dice the ham. If you buy ham that is already sliced, half of your work is done.
- Tear a few celery leaves from the stalk. If they look a bit dehydrated put them in a small bowl of water and they will perk up.
- Peel and slice the potato.
- Put the sliced potato in a small sauce pan and cover it with water. Put a lid on the sauce pan and boil the potato until it begins to fall apart. While the potato is boiling you can continue with the rest of the soup.
- Put the carrots, celery, onions and butter into a large soup pan and cook over a medium heat until the onions start turning translucent.
- Add the two cans of beans, diced ham and the bay leaf to the pot.
- Simmer the soup for 30 minutes.
- At any time while the soup is simmering and after the potato has started to fall apart, mash the potato with a potato masher or fork. Don’t pour off the water. Pour the water and the potato into the soup pot. The mashed potato has now become your thickening agent.
- Adjust the thickness to your own taste by adding more water. What do you like? Thick or thin or something in between?
- Season the soup with the salt and pepper and let it continue simmering for the required thirty minutes. You can let it simmer longer while you prepare the rest of the meal if you like. It will only get better. If you are going to give it more time, turn the heat down and stir the soup occasionally.
- Don’t forget to take the bay leaf out before serving.
- Drop a few of the celery leaves on top after you have filled the bowls.
- The meal can be completed easily. Consider an array of pickles with dills, sweet pickles, pickled okra, artichokes or pickled green beans and olives – sort of an ante pasta plate. Then a Kaiser roll or corn bread that you have baked yourself. Feel good about what you have put together. It’s warm, nutritious, tasty and an expression of love for the people that you serve.
Food for Thought
Christmas is over, and we’re left with many images: gladnesses, disappointments, hopes, fulfillments, regrets and confusions. What were the highlights and where shall we go from here?
The highlight for me had to do with looking for the glories of the season.
As I studied the passage in Luke where the angels made their announcement to the shepherds: “there has been born for you a Savior who is Christ the Lord,” I realized that this very fact (God in a baby born to save us from our sins) was so overwhelming that the glory of God had to break through.
Now we take it for granted that the angel and his choir were glorious, but did you ever notice that the text says that the glory of the Lord appeared around the shepherds? These humble men were given, on that night of all nights, the privilege of participating in the glory of God.
I watched for the glories of God this Christmas and found them in a joyous painting of Elizabeth and Mary—Elizabeth with her head thrown back in song, Mary holding her cousin’s hands on her abdomen, face radiant with joy; in Christmas music by Bruckner sung by our stellar choir; in watching our little grandson help his granddad decorate our tall Christmas tree—eyes alight, eager for the story of each ornament; in the fun of our 50th wedding anniversary spent in laughter and long-held love; in our youngest son’s marimba rendition of “Ring Christmas Bells,” in kaleidoscopic Christmas trees in a snowy country field on Christmas night.
I participated in all these Christmas glories this December along with feasting and gifts. Then it was over. And I was left to ponder with Mary.
On Christmas Eve we baked rich pecan pies and pineapple tortes. But today it’s time to fix something simple for supper, something like a nice homey soup. The former richness was great, but this is the season for simplicity and quietude. We need to be still so we can know that here and now He is God with us and for us; that no matter what happened on Christmas Day, 2014, Christ is present in our midst, and He is all we need.
“Look for Christ,” C.S. Lewis said, “and you will find Him and with him, everything else.”
I like to think that our navy bean soup is of the sort Jesus would have eaten with his disciples after an eventful but exhausting day. They would have walked into Mary’s home, breathed in the fragrance of soup simmering, relaxed and sat down to eat.
Shall we not go and do likewise?