These are some yummy bread sticks that I made to go with the Cowboy Soup. A hearty hot supper on a cold and dismal day. What exactly IS Cowboy Soup, you may be asking. Well, it starts out like most soups...
A big pot, a little olive oil and some celery. And then, of course...
Soups best friends. Do you know this is called a Mirepoix ? A combination of onion, celery and carrot that makes a fine basic soup base. For this big pot of soup, I used 4 stalk of celery, 1 large onion and 4 medium large carrots. Diced. Put them all together into your soup pot and stir well and let them sweat.
Isn't that about the prettiest thing you've ever seen?
Are you like me ? Do you have some favorite cooking utensils that you use almost to the exclusion of everything else ? These are 2 of my most used: and can't you tell how worn and discolored that wooden spoon is ? I have had that baby for over 20 years...
Anyway...lol. I have more kitchen utensils and knives and spoons and gadgets than Carter's got pills. (Whoa--am I dating myself here ?) lol I have things I never use and should really get rid of and clear out some clutter, but I probably never will. Anyway...
Cowboy Soup is the kind of soup that I think would have been made by the really good cooks in a chuckwagon on a cattle drive. The recipe isn't real static, I use what I have on hand, varying things a little. Here's the stuff I used this time:
All stuff from my pantry. I did use a can of tomato paste as well, which I buy and do not can for a lot of reasons obvious to me. lol Tomato paste is labor intensive and takes a LOT of tomatoes to make. I can buy really good tomato paste at Aldi's for about 39 cents can. I couldn't do it myself for that, so I don't. I sauce tomatoes, I can tomatoes whole and I can okra,onion and tomato, as well as salsa, marinara and juice. That's enough. lol
I buy ground beef in 10-20 pound lots from my little family market in town. The brothers grind it fresh for me and it makes me happy. I bring it home, patty a few pounds and all the rest gets frozen in quart freezer bags in increments of 1, 1.5 and 2 pounds each. For this soup, I pull a bag (usually 2 pounds) out of the freezer and while it is still frozen, I use my big trusty French knife to cut it into medium sized cubes. Maybe 1/2 by 1/2 inch. In a separate skillet, I start browning those chunks of ground beef with a little pepper, salt and granulated garlic. They miraculously hold together like a chunk of roast would. Don't ask me why, it's some kind of magic. lol
While this is browning, I start adding things to the soup pot, starting with the jar of tomato sauce. then some water. Then tomato paste, and mix it well. This time I threw in a handful of dried corn, a small handful of dried okra, quite a bit of the dried hen-in-the-woods mushrooms we dried last year and some dried tomatoes. Both the mushrooms and tomatoes, I used my kitchen shears to cut into small chunks. I added some dried basil from my garden stores and a little oregano. I added a little sea salt and pepper. I put the lid on and let it start cooking while the ground beef finished up. When it was pretty much done, I mixed it into the soup pot.
Oh yeah...I found some leftover green beans and potatoes on the fridge and I tossed those in too. lol But here's the finished product. I simmered it maybe an hour and a half after everything was in, to give the dried vegetables a chance to rehydrate and for the flavors to meld. It was heavenly...
Because my wrist and arm are still too weak to knead dough, I use this recipe in my bread machine to make these awesome beauties.
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons water (70° to 80°)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 3 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
- 3/4 teaspoon minced fresh basil or 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
- 3 cups bread flour
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon butter, melted
***Now then, let me tell you something that may (or may not ) be important. This original recipe says that it makes 20 bread sticks. In Dragon Woman's Kitchen, it doesn't make that many. Because I like them to be substantial, the recipe says to divide the dough into 20 pieces and roll them into ropes. I divide it into 10 pieces and roll it. Then I place it on a baking sheet, right close together, and let them rise for about another half hour. ***
My bread sticks are about the size of hot dog buns. They are soft and yeasty and wonderful and my husbands nearly swoons every time I make them. Bake them at 350 degrees for about 18-20 minutes. When they're nice and golden brown, take them out, brush with melted butter and sprinkle with a little extra chopped basil. Sometimes I sprinkle a little extra granulated garlic on top as well. They are the perfect accompaniment to a hearty bowl of soup or even to a big salad.
So--there it is.
Bon Apetit !