Of first importance in creating any delicious and nutritious concoction is the purchase of fresh and tasty ingredients. Vegetables should be firm and smell fresh, no need to bruise, just a light squeeze on the onion or fennel bulb will allow you to determine its freshness. I recommend local and organic, but managing at least one of these will help the flavor of your soup immensely. The meat should also be fresh, I find meat that adheres to my standards of cleanliness and compassion at Eastern markets, Whole Foods and sometimes even Costco. I do my research online before shopping but if you can’t find organic Humane Choice accredited free range lamb, then go with Halal lamb as the requirements of being certified Halal (http://kerryg.hubpages.com/hub/raising-halal-lamb) are strict enough to provide a lean and delicious lamb that was humanely raised.
3-5 lbs lean lamb. Wash the lamb and then cut into large chunks. Throw the lamb chunks into a bag or coating bowl of 1 cup flour and 1 T of herb mix like Bragg’s Organic Sprinkle (I actually make my own mix but if you have none then just add 1/2 tsp thyme, 1 tsp rosemary, 1 tsp parsley, 1/2 tsp tarragon). Braise in 2 T Olive Oil in hot oven proof roasting pan on top of stove or if not available then use a frying pan and try and get all the oil and spices into the roasting pan once browned.
1 baseball size onion studded with cloves
5 lbs carrots scrubbed and sliced
2 turnips well scrubbed and chopped (bite size with substance)
4 medium zucchini sliced
1 cup chopped celery ( I love to use all that leafy parts and end pieces that don’t scoop hummus well)
1-2 fennel bulbs (I use two) chopped.
12 golf ball sized potatoes cut up. (Heirloom potatoes are best and just quartered, but new reds are also good.)
Add another T olive oil and T of spice mixture and toss everything.
Roast in 425 degree oven for 25 minutes.
Immediately upon removing from oven Add 1/2 cup of Burgundy (or substitute an Oregon pinot noir, although buy good; if you don’t want to drink it, you don’t want to cook with it. Tell the sommelier at the store what you are making and get a recommendation)
Put everything in your crockpot (slow cooker, soup pan, whatever…) and cover and set in the fridge overnight. The flavors are having a party. Not a mandatory step, but it helps.
4-6 hours before serving barely cover with water and turn the crock pot to high for two hours. Taste, and now add salt and pepper, turn to low and continue cooking.
Serve with fresh bread and enjoy!