On a cold afternoon in Goshen, Vermont, chef and cooking instructor Liz Barbour spent the day cross-country skiing with her husband. Returning to the lodge after hours of pushing through the snow, Barbour was greeted by a big, open pot of stew sitting on a wood-burning stove.
“With big chunks of bread … there was nothing better,” Barbour said in a phone interview.
Inspired by her post-winter exercise meal, Barbour will hold a stew- and soup-making demonstration at the Beaver Brook Nature Center’s Snowshoeing & Feasting with Stews event on Saturday, March 7.
“The idea of working up an appetite and then having something really good to satisfy, that is really what pulled this all together,” Barbour said, who came up with the idea along with Celeste Philbrick Barr, education and community affairs director at the Beaver Brook Nature Center.
The afternoon will begin with an hourlong snowshoe hike on easy terrain covering about two miles.
“We always end up looking for animal tracks and we are likely to go to...see if we spot any new birds at the feeders,” Philbrick Barr said in a phone interview.
Snowshoes will be provided, and guests are encouraged to wear snow boots or hiking boots and non-cotton layers.
“Don’t overdress, because even on a zero-degree day, people end up warming up,” Philbrick Barr said.
Once they’ve worked up an appetite, everyone will head indoors to replenish.
“You actually expend many more calories during winter exercise because you have to heat up your body, push your body through snow,” Barbour said. “You need to follow that up … with protein and … good carbs, especially if you’re planning to head out again.”
Barbour plans to have three soups already prepared for guests to try right when they come in and will follow that with a cooking demonstration.
“What I’m working [on] is the idea of having a progressive soup,” she said.
Each soup that the snowshoers can try will have started from the same base soup.
“I’m going to be adding different ingredients to it to make a second soup and add ingredients to make a third soup, which is really a great way to fit [cooking] into our busy schedules.”
Barbour has been focusing on progressive soups this winter, keeping two cast iron pots on her stove to make soup at least two or three times each week. She hopes others can use the idea as a way to have a variety of dinners without needing to make a new meal each night. Start with a simple soup and add either fresh, frozen or leftover ingredients day by day to create something new.
“Each time you work on it, it will progress into something else, highlighting a different flavoring profile,” she said.
Barbour’s plan for Snowshoeing & Feasting with Stews is to start with a basic vegetable soup, with either vegetable or chicken broth, plus celery, chopped spinach, pearl onions, fresh parsley and thyme. For the “next life” of the soup, she’ll add in chicken and possibly barley as well as potatoes, corn, milk and cream for a vegetable chicken chowder. The soup will take its final form with the addition of curry paste and butternut squash.
“It takes less time to double and triple a recipe than to make it three separate times,” she said. “You’re just making one big pot of soup. If you don’t use what you make, you freeze it.”
When thinking of ways to build upon a soup with ingredients at home, Barbour recommended writing down the types of soups you like and seeing where they all start. While incorporating leftovers in your fridge is a good way to mix up the recipe, she said, don’t be too spontaneous with the progression, as you want to make sure you build on it in a tasty way. For example, save the strongest spices and seasonings for the last meal, and try not to make the first soup too sweet. “You just keep working it and you’ll be amazed at the kind of things you come up with,” she said.
As seen in the March 5, 2015 issue of the Hippo.