Those who know me, know I’m a little kooky when it comes to food. I love it. I love to cook it, taste it, look at it and read about it. I was at Meijer the other day and became overwhelmed in the produce section. Yes, I used the word “overwhelmed” in relation to a trip to the grocery store. Kooky.
Anyway, I couldn’t stop myself. By the time I left that department, my cart was almost full. (That’s a BIG cart!) Everything was so beautiful. The bright greens of lettuces, herbs and cucumbers, the earthy browns of a dozen different types of mushrooms, red peppers, purple grapes, white cauliflower, orange carrots, it was a buffet for the senses.
I wondered then, how often we stop to think about how lucky and blessed we are. The array of available foods, through transportation, refrigeration and science is quite remarkable. It makes me happy to know it’s available for my belly as it leads me down all sorts of exciting culinary sideroads. Last week the hubs mentioned I should make some bean soup, so I was thinking about that (while folding a load of laundry because momming never stops) and I opened the spare fridge to look at my recent haul.
Bean soup is pretty rich and (the way I make it) very meaty and salty. I knew I wanted to add some crunchy contrast on top and serve a bright kale salad with it. I glanced in the see-through crisper and saw my red peppers, scallions, lemons and fresh parsley. Yum. I know just what to do.
We are still deep in the heart of winter here. My weather app said it feels like 15˚F this morning. Brrr. The hubs had a great idea. I’m going to hunker down with some music and my stove and wait out the next few weeks. A big pot of thick, hearty bean soup will be perfect to get us through to spring. So that’s what I’ll be working on today. While I’m counting my blessings.
Bean Soup with Lemon Parsley BreadcrumbsCourse: Soups, Salads and SandwichesCuisine: American, ComfortDifficulty: Medium
This thick, rich bean soup is perfect for a chilly Midwestern evening.
1 lb dried white or navy beans
2 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, medium dice
4 stalks celery, medium dice
1 pound carrots, peeled and medium dice
2-1/2 tbsp chopped garlic
2 tbsp salt
1/2 tsp red pepper flake
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 cup white wine
2 lg bay leaves
4 cups ham stock, preferably homemade
3-4 cups water
3/4 pound thick sliced ham, cut into medium cubes
- Lemon Parsley Bread Crumbs
2 cups fresh bread crumbs (preferably from a loaf of homemade bread or good quality baguette)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
1-1/2 tsp lemon zest, from one lemon
2 tbsp grated real parmesan (don’t use the powdered stuff from the green can!)
- For Soup:
- 24 HOURS AHEAD: Pick through beans then place in large pot. Cover with at least 3 quarts of water. Refrigerate overnight. Once soaked, beans can be drained and frozen for up to a month.
- Heat large, double bottom pot, over medium high heat. Add olive oil to cover bottom. Add onions, celery and garlic and sweat (still over medium high heat) until liquid is released and the veggies start to soften. Add salt, red pepper flakes and oregano. Continue cooking until vegetables start to stick to bottom of pan and brown slightly.
- Add drained beans to pan with vegetable mix.
- Add white wine and cook until reduced by half. Add ham stock, water and bay leaves. Reduce heat to low and simmer until beans are almost tender. Depending on the age of your beans, this should take 1-2 hours.
- When beans are al dente, add carrots and an additional 1/2 to 1 cup of water if necessary.
- Once beans are soft, add cubed ham and heat through. Taste soup and add salt and/or pepper if necessary.
- Soup can be served immediately but I prefer to keep it in the fridge at least overnight, so the flavors can marry.
- For Breadcrumbs
- Preheat oven to 375F.
- Mix breadcrumbs with olive oil, salt and garlic powder in small bowl.
- Dump crumbs onto small sheet pan and spread into even layer. Bake until golden brown, stirring once if necessary, about 10-15 minutes.
- Allow toasted crumbs to cool slightly then toss with parsley, parmesan and lemon zest.
- Sprinkle on top of soup to serve.
- To serve: place soup in shallow bowls and garnish liberally with breadcrumbs.
- This soup continues to get better as it ages. Add a little water or chicken stock when reheating if it gets too thick for your liking.
- This recipe makes a lot of breadcrumbs, but I add them to everything from salads to fresh pasta. Store what you don’t use in the fridge for a week or so, then toast them briefly in the oven to freshen back up.
- If you use store bought ham stock or base, cut back on the amount of salt you use in the beginning of cooking.
- I use Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt, in the big red box. If you can, purchase it at Amazon or Walmart. The volume of salt can vary by as much as 75% by weight so it can make a HUGE difference to your recipe.