So did anyone ever have a favorite recipe growing up? Well this was one of mine. It wasnt made very often, probably because of the sheer volume it produces. But it is one that reminds me of youth and family. My mothers family is a close one. She always taught us that it is whats important. She was also a phenomenal cook. Always making something so the whole house filled with the aroma that it produced. Her lasagna is one I will never forget. As was her enchiladas. Who knows how authentic they were in their ethnicity factor, but they were mouthwatering to say the least. So I have been making sopas now every summer right before we take the kids camping. It gives me the chance to make something warm and delicious for my family that is very special. We freeze most of it and take it camping with us. That way it also gives me a new connection to my husbands family. They get to experience a piece of my family, which never happens otherwise because they are so far away from where we are now. So I am going to write about my experience making this beautiful family tradition.
I will start with the shopping experience. The hardest part of this process is the amount of money I spend on seasonings and meat. Every pot made calls for almost a whole jar of allspice. But oh the smell when you put it in the cheesecloth! Its one of the first things that reminds me of how much I love to eat it. The wine is a funny thing.....rose wine. Its one of those things you can only find a TON of, and one of those things that no one actually drinks. Well, my husband will drink anything short of rubbing alcohol. So it doesn't really go to waste in our house. The meat is always the funnest thing to find in the grocery store, because lets face it, who doesnt love holding six pounds of red marbled fatty meat and drooling over how it will make your belly swell to the size of a blue whales! The cabbage is the easiest part. I will say that being part Irish I do love cabbage. Especially when its cooked so long that it falls apart on your fork. And WOOWEE the smell your body produces a few hours after any cabbage dish will clear out a room! The last thing worth mentioning is the french bread. I always feel guilty pushing on each loaf to test its crunchiness. Because the crunchier the bread the better. At least in my opinion.
Now the best part. The making of it. This year I am letting Manny take part in the making of this batch of Sopas. Hes at a great age for really wanting to help and be a part of what I am doing. I probably will not be able to say that in a few years. So I am relishing this time in his life and hopefully giving him some great memories of smoke swirled kitchens and aromas that will make your nose widen and your eyes close.
So Manny and I started by staring over a HUGE empty pot. This was the first time I ever let Manny touch raw meat and I must say it made me flinch a little. He got to put the six plus pounds of chuck roast in the pot and we threw a few soup bones in. I let him pour the salt in nice rounds over the meat. That, for some reason, is one of my favorite things. Salt on meat. I am definitely a salt person. Watching the salt land on the meat literally makes my mouth water. To me their is nothing like a beautiful piece of meat salted to perfection. And in this case when it melts in your mouth. From here we added the wine. I looked the other way while it poured a few seconds longer than its supposed to. When I worked at Churchills we used to serve Northumberland Stew that was made with some kind of wine. It was delicious. Their is a wine and meat smell that is like nothing else. I cant describe it properly, but Im sure most of you know what smell Im talking about. Oh Yes, the smell of deliciousness.
So now its marinating, and I will continue this installment tommorrow (hopefully).