Category: Dried Beans

Tuna-Cado Dinner: No-Cook White Bean Salad with Avocado and Tuna

Tuna-Cado Dinner: No-Cook White Bean Salad with Avocado and Tuna

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If you’re like me, there are some days you will not be going to the grocery store. Maybe it’s Sunday and you know how crazy the parking lot is or perhaps it’s a warm Thursday night and you’ve had it.  (What is “it?”)  Could be you’re too busy enjoying the irises blooming for the first time in eleven years – below.  Or you’re avoiding the mama robin nested outside your back door so you can work in the garden without her defecating on you. (Second photo below: Yes, she did this to me.)

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In reality, you unthawed nothing because you were, uh, working, reading a sleazy novel at the pool, running kids, on a hike, at a meeting, or watching movies. Could be you’re lazy, which is an admirable once-in-a-while quality. Do cultivate it.  You are not lighting the grill and you’re not opting out by ordering pizza or Chinese. You could eat a green salad. Again.

Tucker and Rosie in family room

                      Our dogs always hope I go with the pizza idea as they get the crust.

Continue reading “Tuna-Cado Dinner: No-Cook White Bean Salad with Avocado and Tuna”

Snow Cap Bean and Ham Soup — Bye-Bye Easter Ham Bone

Snow Cap Bean and Ham Soup — Bye-Bye Easter Ham Bone

IMG_5604If you’ve read More Time at the Table for long –and we’re just about to celebrate our fifth birthday — you’ll know I adore beans and particularly love bean soup.  I feel overwhelmingly rich when there’s a ham bone in the refrigerator just waiting for me to throw it in the pot one morning.  While I’ve made bean soup for many years, it rarely comes out exactly the same as it did the time before and while I’m not always sure why that is, I’m happy for it.  Of course the taste is dependent upon which dried bean you use and there’s the rare occasion I’ve used a few different cans of beans when there was no time for the long indulgent soup pot.  Or it might taste differently because of the seasonings or the type or amount of ham.  In this case, I pulled out the Easter ham bone (originally a 7-pound ham that now had been nearly, but not quite, picked clean for sandwiches) and looked in the pantry for a bean just a bit different the typical white, navy, black, split pea, black-eyed pea (actually a legume), etc.

Last time I was at Williams-Sonoma, they had, as they often do, a basket of marked down food products.  I’m willing to pay their price for several items I can’t get elsewhere and that are worth it.  Great vanilla extract, for instance. California olive oil.  But there are other items I’ll spring for only when they’ve made it to the mark down rack.  This is where I’ll buy really expensive Italian or Spanish olive oil that I wouldn’t pay the original $50.00 for.  I’ll pick up unusual cocoa or coffee at half-price.  And this is where I bought Snow Cap Beans, which are heirlooms, for $5.99 (15 ounces) instead of $11.95. Continue reading “Snow Cap Bean and Ham Soup — Bye-Bye Easter Ham Bone”

Slow Cooker Bean Soup at Altitude–Ski Day Special!

Slow Cooker Bean Soup at Altitude–Ski Day Special!

When I first moved to altitude, everyone seemed to talk about the changes needed to cook here.  There were lots of suggestions about baking particularly (use less yeast and sugar–more salt for bread), but also about cooking anything at all (cook longer and with more liquid) and I paid attention.  To be sure, some baking required a bit of adjustment — a few things never did come around — but the biggest hurdle was lack of humidity.  Leave a piece of bread on the counter for a few minutes  (say the phone rang when you were about to make a sandwich) and you’d return to dry bread–as if you left it out all night in Chicago or were drying bread for stuffing in Miami.  Bake cookies, leave them to cool on the rack a couple of hours instead of a couple of minutes, and you’d have rocks. All Colorado cookies are biscotti is how I look at it.  Cookies must be eaten, stored in very tightly-sealed containers,  and/or frozen as soon as they’re cool. More than one Colorado baker has just thrown in the towel at Christmas.  You simply can’t eat them before they’re stale. My method is to freeze every batch, taking out just the number of cookies you’ll eat — or give away– at one sitting. It works, but you need a big freezer –or a freezing garage– if you’re a happy baker in December.
Aside:  There are those that will tell you it’s more attitude than altitude.  I might agree, though I beat an extra egg into my corn and tea breads and I always bake with extra-large eggs no matter what.  I also cut the amount of sugar in many baked goods–even things like a mashed sweet potato casserole.  Continue reading “Slow Cooker Bean Soup at Altitude–Ski Day Special!”

38 Power Foods, Week 25 — Dried Beans — French Beans with Smoked Sausage and Chicken

38 Power Foods, Week 25 — Dried Beans — French Beans with Smoked Sausage and Chicken

Nothing like the fragrance of rosemary for remembrance filling the house in December.

 I’m not a cheap cook, but I have always looked for inexpensive ways to provide our daily bread.  Raising a house full of kids, I often had no choice.  Even today, when we’re empty nesters with a bit more funds than when the kids were home, I look for ways to save a bit here and there because it’s the right thing to do.  It’s often healthy, too.   I buy the best I can find for the least amount of money.  If you’ve ever cooked for a soup kitchen, or worked in a food pantry, you’ll know that beans go a long way, are low in calories, and high in fiber.  They’re filling and versatile.  They can also be yummy.  Hence this pot of smokey-fragrant “French” beans with lots of

  • smoked ham (or pork chop)
  • vegetables,
  • big flavors of rosemary, thyme, and bay, 
  • browned chicken thighs, legs, (I like Kadejan chicken from Glenwood, MN) and…
  • sausage pieces.

What makes the beans French?  Probably the herbs and the nod toward a très simple and abbreviated version of cassoulet, which takes three days to make using the traditional method.  I use regular navy or white beans; the French often use  tiny white beans called flageolets.  (For my easier, but still two-day version of cassoulet, click here.  I’ll freely admit it needs better photos…phewee.) If you don’t know what cassoulet is, it’s a holiday or large-group gathering winter French meal that includes beans, vegetables, sausage, duck confit, pork, and more.  There are layers of cooking involved and a final, huge deep oven-baked pan of oh-my-cook goodness to feed the masses.  Lots of lusty red Rhone wine is required, as are copious amounts of baguette to soak up the never-should-be dry bowlful.  Cassoulet is a celebration I occasionally do for Christmas Eve.  This year, I’m trying not to conquer the world in just one day; I have no idea what we’re having, though a great big bowl of Bolognese is in my freezer.  (What riches!)

While this is not a fast recipe (nor is it the three-day marathon), it’s one to enjoy making when  you need to be at home anyway.  I think it truly is a one-dish meal.  You could add a salad if you want, but I’m not sure you need bother.  A little cheese afterward perhaps.

Maybe make this when snow flies or folks are on the way and a nice pot of anything will be the relaxed ticket for the evening.  I’m convinced the reason many people don’t cook (or say they don’t have time to cook) is because they just don’t stay at home.  Our running, crazy world keeps us distracted and sometimes isolated despite all of our “connectivity.”  There’s a lot of feeling good to be done around a bit slower life that includes some cooking and sharing of meals.   Invite someone over to play cards for the afternoon while this is in the oven (and everyone oo’s and ah’s over the great smells) or serve for a post-holiday meal to use up some of the ham you made for Christmas or New Year’s.

Here’s the “recipe” in photo form…   It’s really a method and precise amounts aren’t truly necessary.  Use your inner creative cook!

french  beans with smoked sausage and chicken
  serves 6        
 Cooks note:   You’ll need to soak a pound of  dry white beans overnight just covered with water or
                       quick-soak them by covering with water, bringing to a boil, and covering for one 
                       hour before beginning this recipe. 

Simmer over medium heat a minute or two in an 6-8 quart heavy pot*: 2 tablespoons olive oil, a pinch of crushed red pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper...until fragrant.  (Flavor the oil.)  Do not add salt until beans are at least half-way cooked.

Chop 1 large onion, 3 cloves garlic, 3 stalks celery, and 3 carrots.

Add vegetables to pot with 2 rosemary sprigs, 1 teaspoon dried Thyme and 1 bay leaf. Stir. (The rosemary will come apart during the cooking.  You’ll remove the leftover twig at the end.)

While the vegetables cook for five minutes, or so, chop 1/2 cup smoked ham, ham hock, or smoked pork chop.  (I just cut some off a ham hock and froze the rest of the ham hock.  Cook another five minutes, stirring.
To bring up the browned bits on the bottom (deglaze) the pot, add 1/2 cup white wine.  Simmer 2-3 minutes, stirring.

 

Pour in 5 cups chicken stock and 2 tablespoons tomato paste.   Bring to a boil.  Add one pound rinsed and soaked dry white beans.*   Reduce heat to simmer.

Cover and let cook an hour or so until beans have just begun to soften.  Add 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt; taste and re-season if necessary.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Meantime, pour 2 tablespoons olive oil into a large skillet heated over medium flame.  Salt and pepper well 6 chicken legs and thighs** and cook them about ten minutes on each side until nicely browned, but not done all the way through.  

Slice about 8 ounces of smoked sausage  into 1/2″ thick slices   (I used Aidell’s smoked Italian Sausage with Mozzerella; Kielbasa would be fine) and..

add to the pan of browned chicken.  Let cook about two minute or until hot.  Add chicken and sausage to the pot of beans, gently pressing chicken down into the bean mixture not necessarily to cover, but to moisten.
Bring to a boil, cover, and place pot in preheated oven.  Let bake until beans are tender and chicken is cooked through, about an hour.  Taste and re-season as needed.  Remove rosemary “branches,” but leave bay leaf in. Whoever gets it has good luck!
Serve hot in large, shallow bowls with sturdy bread and a big glass of red Rhone.

*If you use a 6 quart pot instead of a 8 quart pot, you may not be able to fit all of the chicken in it. Put four pieces of chicken and all of the sausage in the pot before baking and continue cooking additional two pieces of chicken stove top until they are done.  Cool and reserve to add to the pot when the beans are tender and  you take it out of  the oven.  I used the Le Creuset 26, which translates to close to 6 quarts.  Make sure you check your pot’s manufacturer’s directions for the safest oven temperature.  Some pots are 350 degrees Fahrenheit; some are 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

**I like dark meat for slow cooking.  If you like breasts (white meat), go ahead and use them, but I think they will get over done here unless you almost totally cook the beans stove top first and only
put the entire pot into the oven for the time it takes to finish the breasts.

about dried beans (from livestrong.com)

Pinto beans, black-eyed peas and lentils are some commonly-eaten dried beans. The recommended serving size for pinto beans is 1 cup. This serving contains 120 calories, no fat, 10 g of dietary fiber and 9 g of protein. Black-eyed peas should be eaten in 1/2 c serving sizes, which each yield 130 calories, 0.5 g of fat, 5 g of dietary fiber and 10 g of protein. Lentils should be eaten in 1/2 cup servings, each of which contains 115 calories. A serving of lentils contains 0.4 g of fat, 7.8 g of dietary fiber and 8.9 g of protein.  (White beans are a bit more calorie-wise)

about our blogging group
We’re just getting ready to take a break from group  blogging for the rest of December….We’ll be back cooking in cahoots come January:
 
 I blog with a great group of writers every Friday where we cook our way through the list of foods from Whole Living Magazine’s Power Foods:  150 Delicious Recipes with the 38 Healthiest Ingredients:    Read more about tasty beans at these sites:

Ansh – SpiceRoots.com  
Minnie Gupta from TheLady8Home.com

Sarah – Everything in the Kitchen Sink

 If you liked this, you might also like:
Sing a new song; cook some beans,
Alyce 
Beans and Cornbread — Cold Day Supper

Beans and Cornbread — Cold Day Supper

I don’t know if Friday Night “Dinner and a Movie” is still on. Last time I tuned in, it offered decent film viewing as well as little vignettes and cooking segments presented by talented folk.  The music was the late 40’s jump tune (Louis Thomas Jordan), “Beans and Cornbread!”  Loved it.  I don’t know what it is about the phrase…  Once you hear it, you just start walking around going, “Beans and cornbread uh uh uh…Beans and cornbread…”  The “uh uh uh” is the tenor sax.

I raised my kids on bean soup and corn bread (or plain old beans and cornbread), though I don’t think I knew the tune back then…  It’s a good tune!!  And  I still make it a couple of times a season. Simply put, we’re always glad to get it.  It’s inexpensive, fairly healthy, and goes a long way.  Dried beans have a long history south and north of the Mason-Dixon line and both Dave’s mom and my mom made big pots to feed their families.  So it’s comfort food for both of us.   In fact, the first meal I had at Dave’s house when we were dating was a pot of ham and beans.  (Crock-pot fare was big in the mid-70’s.) He’s quick to remind me that in his house, beans were always served with ketchup.  In my house, ketchup with beans would have been anathema.  Yuck.  Hot sauce, yes.  Vinegar with hot peppers, probably.  Ketchup, no.

 

This is a ham hock from our little corner store, Widmer’s.

Beans are a good reason to cook a ham; you’ll  have the ham bone.  No ham bone?  Buy a ham hock or two as well as a ham steak if you like a lot of meat. Have a great butcher?   Have him/her cut that big ham hock in half for you.  You’ll only need half.  Wrap the other half well in foil and freeze for up to two months.

But there are beans and there are beans. There’s cornbread and there’s cornbread. You can make all kinds…  Here’s another version I offered on Dinner Place last spring:

Black-eyed Pea Soup with Yellow Pepper Salsa and Corn Muffins

Just for grins and giggles, let’s say you just want to make plain old very yummy bean soup.   You’d like to know how to make a truly tasty cast iron pan of corn bread.   You can.   You can scratch that itch for a fine, old-fashioned meal.  Even if  years ago you did do the Elvis sneer– or squint and whistle in through your teeth when you knew there were beans for supper.   My guess is you don’t do that any more.  In fact, when you’re on a road trip, you may pull in to Cracker Barrel for just such a lunch.

And, uh, oh, by the way, if you invite friends to share this sumptuous repast and throw in a couple of bottles of Côtes du Rhône (choose an inexpensive version of this dry French red blend)…you’ll be at the top of the heap with them for your “rustic” choice in dinner fare.  Pick up a baguette to add to the bread basket.  A few olives in a bowl for starters.  Sounds like a good New Year’s Day plan.

(Cups to grams conversion here.)

Here’s how:

beans and cornbread alyce style

              bean soup  (made in two stages–broth/beans and soup)
                                         makes 10 – 12 servings
 First the broth and cooking the beans half-way:
 1# dried white or navy beans, rinsed well, picked over and soaked overnight or quick-soaked*
1 Smoked ham bone or smoked ham hock
6 cups chicken stock
3 quarts water (or more as needed to keep beans cooking freely) 
2 bay leaves  
1/2 teaspoon Fresh ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
3 cloves garlic,  minced
1 onion, cut in half                                                
1 stalk celery
1 carrot  
10 sprigs fresh parsley and 2 large sprigs thyme tied in a bundle**
4 drops hot sauce (or to taste) 

*You do not have to soak beans contrary to common wisdom.  They will, however, cook more evenly and (rumor has it) be less gassy if you do soak them.  Place the cleaned and sorted beans in the pot with water just to cover overnight.  Or for quick soak:  place cleaned and sorted beans in pot just barely covered with water and bring to a boil for two minutes.  Turn heat off, cover pot, and let sit one hour before making soup.  Discard soaking liquid for either method.
 
**Or use just the parsley tied and add 1 teaspoon dried thyme
 

  Add all of the broth ingredients to a large (10-12 quart) stock pot.  Bring to a boil.  Lower heat to a simmer.   Let cook about an hour or until beans are just beginning to soften. Take out ham hock or bone and cool a bit.  Remove any usable meat, chop, and return to pot.  Discard bone.  Remove herb bundle and discard.  Remove large pieces of vegetables, cool briefly and chop; return to pot. Don’t take out the bay leaves. Whoever gets them has good luck. Continue below at “Make the Soup.”

 Second, make the soup:

Add to the broth the following:

2 cups ham cut into half-inch pieces
3 tablespoons tomato paste (or 15 ounce can chopped tomatoes)   
2 cups chopped celery
1 cup each chopped onion and carrots 
  
 Bring the pot of soup to a boil.  Reduce heat to a healthy simmer and cook another 1-2  hours until beans and all vegetables are tender.  (The time will depend somewhat on how high you have the heat, how done the beans already were, etc.)  Add water, if needed, to ensure vegetables are all cooking very freely in liquid.  Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.   If you’d like  a thicker soup, remove two cups of beans and vegetables and mash or puree in the food processor.  Return mashed vegetables to pot and taste again for seasoning.  Serve hot with corn bread, butter, and honey.  Store cooled leftovers well-covered in the refrigerator three days or in the freezer for up to six months.

Variations:  Want a slow-cooker bean soup?  Try this one.
You can also slow“cook” bean soup in the oven like my friend Tony does.  Try this.
It doesn’t take much to convert this to a more French version.  Read here. 

{printable recipe for bean soup}

 

       alyce’s corn bread
makes one 9″inch cast iron pan  (can use 9″ baking pan if necessary)  
8-10 servings

  • 5 tablespoons butter, divided  (1/4 cup or 4 tablespoons for batter; 1 tablespoon to grease pan)
    2 eggs, beaten
    1 cup milk
    1 tablespoon finely minced onion
  • 1 1/4 cups white or yellow cornmeal
    3/4 cup unbleached white flour
    1/4 cup white, granulated sugar
    2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper    or more to taste
  1. Pre heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (205 Celsius).  Place rack at center.
  2.  Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter and set aside.
  3. Heat a 9″ cast iron skillet (23 Le Creuset) on the stove top over low flame with  the tablespoon of remaining butter.   (If using a baking pan, simply grease the pan.)  Tilt and tip skillet from side to side to coat the entire pan with a film of butter.  Remove from heat if butter begins to burn.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, onion, and reserved melted butter.  Set aside.
  5. In a large bowl, mix well the dry ingredients (cornmeal – pepper).  Pour milk mixture into dry ingredients and mix until just barely combined.
  6. Pour batter into hot skillet or greased pan. I let the pan sit there a minute or two.  Using hot pad for skillet, carefully move skillet to oven center rack. 
  7. Bake about twenty minutes or until bread is golden brown with crispy edges and a toothpick inserted at center comes out clean.  Serve hot with honey and butter.   Wrap leftovers carefully and store at room temperature for one-two days or up to one week in the refrigerator.  (Good crumbled in milk for breakfast.) 

{printable recipe-corn bread}

  two-dog kitchen and around the ‘hood

Came home from a trip to find someone had (we guess) a bit too much holiday eggnog and ran our fence down.  Sad.

 

Back from the groomer.  A bit embarrassed by the regalia.  Cute babies, HUH?!

Better late than never:  a little of the Thanksgiving baking above and below:

Maple-Bourbon Pecan Pie

 

 

Cranberry-Apple Tart with Almond Paste Crust

 

Pour the pumpkin mixture into a pie plate on a baking sheet that’s already in the oven.

 

C is for Cherry

 

My One-Minute (microwave) Pumpkin Custards made into tiny pies with an Anna’s Ginger Thin.

 Sing a new song; make a pot of beans,
Alyce

Tuscan Bean Soup or It Might as Well be Spring

Tuscan Bean Soup or It Might as Well be Spring

One-pot, no soak Tuscan Bean Soup with Rosemary and Chicken

Hot, cold.  Hot, cold.  The weather here is like a menopausal woman.  To be fair, it hasn’t been hot.  Except in my house where there’s a radiator stuck on high.  According to local legend, it can’t be fixed until summer.   Who said?  So when I clean the bathroom upstairs, I turn into a sauna.   That’s right, I used the correct pronoun.

Outdoors yesterday, the temperature hit about 41 degrees Fahrenheit.   The Macalester College running club (We live about 4 blocks from “Mac.”)  ran by in T-tiny shorts singing,

“We’re  having a heat wave, a tropical heat wave.  The temperature’s rising; it isn’t surprising…”

 While I’m the first girl to put on her tee shirt and grill (actually I don’t grill outdoors and don’t care to learn–that’s what Dave is for), I’ll always have to admit I adore indoor and cozy cooking.  I like it cold enough to leave the oven on for hours happily braising while I read. (“I’m cooking today.”)  Or for a soup to giggle and pop all afternoon on the stove.  I’m the woman Hillary Clinton didn’t want to be…I did stay home and bake cookies. Among other things.  So I’m the only person in the Twin Cities who is glad it’s still kinda cold.  (It’s 67 in Colorado Springs; I’ve been watching.)  Everyone else is giving their flip flops a test run in the lingering snow while I am snug in my Clarks’ boots.  I’ll give you this:  my blood is still thickening after 15 years in Colorado where the beautiful weather is a well-kept secret.

What’s the pits is that the dogs are so funky dirty stinky from the melting snow-mud that I’d like to drop them off at the groomers and let them live there for the next month.  We’ve got a dog shower in the basement (no joke) that I guess I’ll break down and use, though they’ll just be filthy again in ten and my back will hurt.

Dad’s in a big meeting on the phone; we have to stay out. Whah.

 All that said (are you tired of that phrase?) I’m still in the mood for homey, warming soups and stews.  Not only because the weather calls for them, but also because they feed us well, healthily and economically.  Who doesn’t like to cook once and eat thrice?  Or eat once, freeze and eat once a week for the next two?  Or share like we’ll do tonight with a friend.  I’ll take some bread to a neighbor who adores bread, too.

Here’s the No-Knead Bread I made for the soup.

What’s food for if it isn’t shared?  Speaking of which, the book TAKE THIS BREAD, by Sara Miles is life-changing (as I mentioned at the end of the last post).  A “radical” conversation about communion, the book is also a lot about food, feeding people, and what that all means to you and me.  In my world (in my heart), we are called to feed one another in many ways…but I believe firmly that we are called to share, eat and love one another because of it.  While there are no atheists in fox holes, there might also be no enemies around a dinner table.  What?  We could toast,

Here’s to you.  I hate you.

I don’t think so.  Touching bread together is a means of healing.  In many ways.

Here’s to this soup; it’s something you could easily share.  Don’t be afraid.  People love to be invited.  They don’t care if you haven’t swept (and if they do, they need to get over THAT), but they care that someone is interested enough in them to want to spend an evening –a morning, an afternoon– with them.  They care that someone loves enough to cook.  A restaurant meal (much the thing now) isn’t the same.  To begin with, the restaurant:

  1. is expensive
  2. might not be healthy
  3. wants you gone
  4. wants to have someone else at your table
  5. wants to make more money
  6. doesn’t put your love into the food

All right, I’ll give you this:  they might.  Many cooks/chefs really want the best for their customers, but just as many simply want it to be nine o’clock. 

Beans, water,  ham hock and rosemary…it starts like this.

 So call a friend(s), throw the place mats on the table, turn on the music, light the candles, pour the wine, and make this soup.  Not in that order.  Some tiny bit of a crunchy salad and a chewy boule or baguette round out the meal and the bread’s great for dunking.  A couple of tiny cookies or a small scoop of gelato would be sweet for an ending.    (Wine? I like a Cotes du Rhone here, but you might prefer a light Italian red like a Moltepulciano.) Here’s the story in pictures:

Start with a great ham hock.

Cook the beans with onion, rosemary and the ham hock.  No salt.

Remove the hock, add stock, chicken pieces, and veg.

Throw in a couple of tomatoes with the chicken and vegetables; remove to cool, peel easily, and chop.

Chop the rosemary finely this time; you don’t want to eat a Christmas tree.

Carefully chop meat from hock.  Remove fat and tendons; check for bones.

Now that’s an easy way to peel a tomato.

The chicken, simmered in liquid, is done quickly.  Remove, cool, skin, bone, and shred.

Put it all back in the pot and let her roll. Turn down and simmer. 

 Cook’s Note:  No cooking and letting the beans sit for an hour; no overnight soak. You just start cooking the beans for this soup in one pan and add EVERYTHING else in a row.  Total cooking/prep time is 3 hours, perhaps less.  I gave it an extra 30 minutes simmer to come together at the end.  Of course it’s great the next day after all the ingredients swam in the same sea, slept in the same bed, washed in the same water, or whatever metaphor floats your boat.

Tuscan Bean Soup with Rosemary and Chicken makes 5 qts approximately

1/2-3/4# dried cannellini or northern white bean/navy beans
1 ham hock (I used half a large one)
2 large onions, peeled and chopped, divided
4 cloves garlic, chopped, divided
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
2 sprigs rosemary, divided  (Leave one whole; mince the other.)

3 pieces chicken with bones and skin
1 qt chicken stock, low or no salt
1 c white wine or water
2 firm red tomatoes (or 1 15 oz can chopped tomatoes)
1 c chopped carrots
3 stalks celery with leaves, chopped
(1/4 c chopped cabbage, 1/4 c chopped green beans, optional-I had them and put them in.)
1/4 c chopped parsley
Kosher salt; freshly ground pepper (start with 1 tsp salt and 1/8 t pepper)
Several drops of Tabasco or other hot sauce (or a pinch of crushed red pepper or ground cayenne)

1 c fresh spinach leaves

1/2 c Parmesan
Zest of 1 fresh lemon

  1. Bring to a boil beans and 2-3 qts peppered (no salt) water.  Add  ham hock, 1 of the chopped onions, and a whole sprig of rosemary.  (Leave the stem in until soup is done; the leaves will have cooked and become quite tender at the end of 3 hours.) Lower heat, cover partially, and let cook at a low boil for about 1 1/2 hours until beans are becoming tender.  Add some water if beans are not boiling freely.  Remove ham hock, cool, shred (leave out fat and gristle) and return meat to pot.
  2. Add chicken stock, wine or water, 3 pieces of chicken, and all of the vegetables/herbs (including the other chopped onion, the other sprig of minced rosemary, and the other 2 chopped garlic cloves) except the spinach.  Stir in salt, pepper and Tabasco.  Return to a boil; lower heat and simmer 2-3 minutes.  Remove tomatoes and let cool a few minutes.  Skin, chop and return tomatoes to pot.
  3. Cook soup until chicken is no longer pink in middle and vegetables are tender, 20 minutes or so.  Remove chicken and let cool for five minutes. Skin, bone and chop.  Return meat to the pot; discard bones and skin.  (Unless you have a dog who likes chicken skin.)  Taste and adjust seasonings.
  4. Remove 2 cups of the soup and puree in the food processor or mash well with a potato masher.  You could also use an immersion blender very briefly.* Return mashed soup to pot, stir, and bring to a boil.   Cook a couple of minutes and lower heat to a bare simmer.
  5. Add spinach; cook 1 minute.  Stir well.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  More salt?  Pepper?  Hot sauce?  Carefully add just a teense of any of these and taste again.   Serve hot  with 1T grated Parmesan and a 1/2 tsp lemon rind to top each large bowl.  A dusting of pepper might be welcome as well.

*You want a soup that shows all of its elements–beans, vegetables and meat–merely thickened by the small amount of pureed soup.  You don’t want a totally pureed soup.

Two-Dog Kitchen

In St. Paul, spring wants to come.  People and animals (see brave bunny below) are all ready for warming sun, a day in the yard, a stroll in the park.  I must say they are hardy creatures, though.  There hasn’t yet been a day when folks aren’t taking a walk, shopping, etc.  Snow, 14 degrees, wind, whatever.  These are outdoor people.  One day when I thought it was WAY too cold to venture far beyond the warm car, I saw a dad wheeling a stroller, taking the kid for a spin.  I got on my boots, tied up my scarf, and went for a walk.  I’m learning.

Pat the bunny.  Our reason to bark.  A lot.

Dad loves us again and is off the phone with people.  Office furniture on order.  Also paint.

We really didn’t.

Sing a new song,
Alyce