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Sunday, January 12, 2014

New England Winter Stew

I love my winter CSA more than any other season. When I first decided to do one, I was concerned that winter in Maine is not a viable time for growing food at the farm. I was quickly proven wrong. My first winter CSA was through Little Ridge Farms in Lisbon, and I was astonished at the variety of vegetables - from delicata to butternut squash, turnips, beets, onions, shallots, kale to collard greens. And I never got bored with them. My body craved them. And each winter I tingle with anticipation for creating recipes to keep my family warm in the cold New England weather while providing them with the plethora of vitamins our bodies crave. This year's holidays took a toll on us, berated by colds, a gastrointestinal virus, and the exhaustion from late nights and too much candy. We were in dire need of soup, a thick hearty stew that could warm us from the inside out. Serve this with a hearty chunk of bread and a small salad for a full meal.

(serves 4)
1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 C sausage, cooked
2 C butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 turnip, peeled and cubed
1 fennel bulb, chopped, tops removed (for another use)
2 C cooked rice
4 C vegetable stock
4 T butter, unsalted
1 t cumin
1/2 t cayenne
1 sprig savory
1 apple

In large sauce pan put whole sausages in and cover with water. Cook 15 minutes over medium-high heat. Set aside and drain any remaining water from the pan. Return pan to medium low heat and melt 3 T of butter in it. Toss in onion and coat with the butter. Cook over medium low heat until the onions have caramelized. Add in garlic, squash, turnip and fennel and toss to coat with onions. Chop sausage into pieces and mix into veggies. Pour in vegetable stock. Stir in cumin and cayenne, and drop a sprig of savory in. Bring to a boil and drop to a simmer. Cook for 1 hour. Add in rice and cook for another 30 minutes. Mix in 1 T of butter, salt and pepper if desired.

To serve, scoop stew into a bowl and garnish with fresh chopped apple and fennel ferns.