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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Gradaute to Garbage (Garbanzo) Stew

Image from Graphics Fairy*

I was 19  and in my first year of college when my Dad earned his Ph.D. 

I was 29 when I earned Ph.D.  My brother earned his the year before.

I was 32 when I got my first full time faculty position.  My office was one floor down from Dad and across campus from my brother.  My dad liked to use the phone even less than I do (which is saying a lot).  However, I think it amused him the most to ask "which one?" when the caller asked for Dr W

We  had a parties for each occasion.  But the first was Dad's!  My sister and I baked the cake.  Ask her how to spell CoNGrAtuLaTiONs (Filling in the top row of a periodic table).  I am sure it wasn't my fault!   Mom found the recipe for Garbanzo Stew and made a giant pot for the party.  It was in an old Better Homes and Gardens magazine or recipe card.  She, and I, have been making it ever since. Some one called it Garbage Stew.  We have called it that ever since. 

It is just as well I can't find the original recipe.  If followed precisely, it makes for a pretty thin gruel.  When I looked at it, I realized how much we have modified it.  What follows, as is customary for me, is a general guideline.  Soup is a very forgiving food to prepare.  Unlike baking, measurements do not need to be precise.  That makes it pretty simple to use what you have on hand.  The trade off for that simplicity is that you need to season it to suit the particular brand of ingredients and your personal taste.

Good quality smoked sausage sliced
1 package bacon, diced
Stew Beef cubed
Ham bone or cubed ham
Garbanzo Beans
Potatoes peeled and diced (about the size of the cubes of meat)
Chicken stock

Fry the bacon in a large stock pot with a lid.  Remove and drain on paper towels.  Pour off fat.  Fry sausage in same pot until browned.  Remove to plate with bacon.  Cool and refrigerate bacon and sausage. 

Sear beef cubes in same stock pot in a bit of the fat from the sausage.   If using fresh garlic, add one or two crushed cloves for the last minute of searing.  Drain fat.  Add ham, approximately 1 tsp granulated garlic (if not using fresh) and cover with water.   Add at least on can or better one box of chicken stock.  Cover completely with water.  Bring to a simmer.  Cover pan with lid and allow to simmer on low for several hours until beef is tender.  (Alternately you can braise it in the oven or you could transfer to your crock pot.) 

Once beef is tender, add drained canned garbanzo beans, and cubed potatoes.  Bring to a rolling simmer and cook until potatoes are tender.  Add in sausage and bacon.  Heat through.  Skim fat from surface. 

Now is the time to adjust the seasonings.  Add more garlic.  This soup should be very garlicky.  Add lots of cracked fresh black pepper.  Add parsley if you like  If you need more liquid add more chicken stock.  Season slowly and taste as you go.  You will know when you get to a rich, slightly salty, hearty soup.

Serve with salad, bread or in a mug as you greet your holiday or celebratory guests.

*I don't have any digital copies of pictures from Dad's graduation party.  This image from Graphics Fairy, absolutely cracked me up.  It actually looks a bit like my dad (except for the too big suit).  More importantly, the cartoon style is very similar to the cartoons he always drew. 

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