In the Dry Gables story “Marta Bauer: Baker and Peacemaker,” when conflict comes to Dry Gables — when there are arguments, disagreements, or blocks in the road to peace — the people of Dry Gables go one place: Marta Bauer's bakery. Somehow she always knows what to make, what to say, and how to listen so that conflicts simply ... dissolve.
This is truly tested one day when a family of Chinese immigrants arrives in Dry Gables and the town is divided about next steps. Some want to honor the restrictive law of the land and others wish to welcome them with open arms. What to do? Get the baker.
This story is about how to listen, how to empathize, how to resolve conflict in a gentle way — and indeed, it speaks to the current confusion and conflict around how to best help the refugees of the world.
As Marta knows, bread is a universal food. Every culture in our world has some type of bread. It's something that we all have in common, and so often starting with the things that we have in common is a pretty good way to work out some of the issues that may be a bit trickier.
You know what else is a universal food? Soup!
Inspired by the leek sausages that Marta has to leave when she's called to help with the conflict in this story, this soup is hearty and warm, but — between the leeks, spinach, and lemon — also just bright enough to make you think there might be a hope of spring coming soon.
Leeks and spinach are green enough to cause a bit of conflict around my dinner table, so I added a bit of pasta here to help negotiate a more peaceful meal with my own small tribe. If you wanted to make this gluten-free, though, try substituting chickpeas for the pasta. Toss a drained can into the soup right at the end with the spinach, so that the chickpeas just have time to warm through before serving.
Leek and Sausage Soup
(makes about 3 quarts)
2-3 leeks, white and light green parts only
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 sausage links (turkey or pork, as you prefer)
3 cloves garlic
6 cups chicken stock
8 ounces ditalini or other small pasta
6 ounces fresh spinach
2 sprigs of fresh oregano, chopped with stems removed
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper, to taste
Begin by chopping and cleaning 2-3 leeks. To do so, cut the leeks in half, then chop them into half-inch slices. Use your fingers to separate the leek pieces, then submerge them in a large bowl of water or a clean sink. Make sure the leeks are completely covered by a few inches of water for at least 10-15 minutes, as this gives any dirt time to settle to the bottom.
While the leeks soak, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the sausage links, cooking them for a few minutes a side until their casings are browned, but without necessarily cooking them through. Remove the sausage from the pot and set aside.
If the bottom of the pot looks dry — which it probably will if you've used turkey sausage, but may not if you've used pork — add another tablespoon of olive oil to the pot.
As the oil warms, remove the leeks from the water (being careful not to stir up the dirt at the bottom) and quickly pat them as dry as you can with a clean towel. Add the leeks to the stockpot and reduce the heat to medium. Let the leeks sweat for about 8 minutes, stirring often. You want them to get tender and sweet, not browned, so if they start to color, reduce the heat further.
Now, mince three cloves of garlic and add it to the leeks. Add the sausage back to the pot as well and cook it all together for about 3 minutes. Add 6 cups of chicken stock, bring it to a boil, and let the soup gently bubble for about 5 more minutes.
Next, add the pasta. Let the pasta cook for about 7 minutes (or until it's almost done) then add the spinach, oregano, and lemon juice and cook for a minute more.
Add salt and pepper to taste, and enjoy!
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