As I’m putting together this weekly offering of recipes from nature’s bountiful larder, the weather almost dictates something hearty in the way of soup or stew. It’s a grey, dismal day, of the sort only a Scot could love, with a cold, steady rain being driven by a stiff breeze. To my way of thinking such weather calls for a good book, a soothing libation, and most of all the inner satisfaction provided by a steaming bowl filled with a savory dish. Here are two such offerings.


Venison Pasta e Fagioli

Last weekend I shot my first deer of the season, and with the exception of the backstraps and tenderloins, the processor has instructions to turn everything else into cubed steak and ground meat. This season’s next deer will, should I be so fortunate (and on my little spread here in South Carolina, it’s really more a matter of time in the stand than simply hoping to get a shot), be exclusively prime cuts and ground meat. That’s because there are so many great things you can do with ground venison. This particular recipe ranks right at the top of my venison burger list.


You’ll need:

½ cup chopped onion

2 garlic cloves, minced

½ cup grated celery

½ cup grated carrots

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 (14-ounce) can chicken broth

½-¾ pound ground venison, browned

2 (14-ounce) cans diced tomatoes

1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce

1 (16-ounce) can red kidney beans

1 (16-ounce) can white kidney beans (cannellini)

1 cup cooked ziti

½ teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon parsley

½ teaspoon basil

1 ½ teaspoons Italian seasoning

Salt to taste


Sauté onion, garlic, celery, and carrots in olive oil until tender crisp. Add chicken broth and simmer. Brown ground venison. Add venison, diced tomatoes, and tomato sauce. Drain and rinse red and white kidney beans and add to soup. Chop cooked ziti with kitchen scissors and add to soup. Add seasonings. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes.

Yields four quarts. Leftovers freeze nicely and will provide a quick meal when time is of the essence.

Serve with Texas toast or, if you want to mix Appalachian and Italian cookery, chunks of cracklin’ cornbread.


The author’s venison soup and cornbread makes for a tasty looking spread.



Oyster Stew

Give me a big bowl of oyster stew, with plenty of crackers on the side or bread for sopping what my Grandpa Joe always called “the leavings,” complement it with a fresh fruit salad, and I’ll be a happy camper. Best of all, this particular recipe doesn’t require the double boiler approach so often necessary with oyster stews.


You’ll need:

2 (12-ounce) cans oysters or the equivalent of fresh ones

2 chopped sweet onions

½ cup olive oil

1 teaspoon self-rising flour

4 cups milk (you can use skim, but for richness whole milk is best)

1 tablespoon dried parsley

1 teaspoon seasoned garlic salt

½ teaspoon black pepper


Drain the oysters, checking closely for pieces of shell. Sauté the onions in the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the flour, whisking until blended. Add the oysters and stir to combine.

Stir in the milk, parsley, garlic salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil and then remove from heat. Serve immediately with oyster crackers or saltines.

Serves four.



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Cover Image: Thinkstock