Saturday, December 15, 2007

Rough Week-- Cozy Soup to the Rescue!

by Xani

I had kind of a rough week, so that's my excuse for not posting (EP's excuse is that she is in the middle of exams!). Nothing major happened, just a bunch of little things that made cooking and blogging seem not so fun. But I'm back on track now, thanks in part to a pot of totally delicious soup I just made.

After a trip to the grocery this morning (along with EVERYONE ELSE in Baltimore-- all stocking up for this "snow" we're supposed to have), lunch and coffee with EP, and relaxing/chores around the house, I decided to cook up some dinner. I had options, as I just replenished my barren pantry, and I knew I wanted something SUPER-cozy (like I said, we might get some winter weather, so it's time to hunker down, right?). I decided to make Ina Garten's Rosemary White Bean Soup. I've made this a few times in the past, but not in YEARS. Its fairly simple, hearty, cozy and gave me an excuse to use one of my favorite kitchen gadgets!

It all starts with dry white cannellini beans, which I soaked for six hours before draining and.... hahahahah. Gotcha! I did no such thing. I used canned beans because I have never once had the foresight to soak beans for a recipe. So, for me, it all started with a couple of yellow onions which I sliced and sauteed in olive oil (ok, and a little bacon fat) in a big pot until they were very soft and translucent. (***Note to potential gift-givers: I totally would have used a Le Crueset dutch over for this recipe, IF I HAD ONE. Thank you.***) Then I added a couple of cloves of garlic, minced, and cooked it for a couple of minutes longer. Next in went the drained canned beans, a spring of rosemary, a bay leaf, and some chicken stock (I used store-bought this time, although I hope to replenish my stock supply tomorrow when BCD Dad and I are scheduled to do some butchering-- aged-beef and some chickens. Butchering produces bones, and you know what that means...stock! Stay tuned!)

Busted!! The evidence.

Even the onions wish they were in a Le Creuset...

Just as good as dried!

I brought the whole mix to a boil and then reduced the heat, covered, and let it all simmer for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, I made some little Parmesan crostini. This is a recipe that Ina suggests as an accompaniment for this soup in her book, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, but for some reason isn't on the Food Network page. The book, however, is at BCD headquarters. Luckily, it's a pretty simple recipe, so I recreated it from memory-- slice baguette, drizzle with olive oil, grate on some Parmesan, a twist of cracked black pepper, and into the oven until golden brown.



Might as well make extras!

As soon as the crostini were done I got ready to finish the soup with my AWESOME Cuisinart Cordless Rechargeable Hand Blender, also known as an immersion blender (or as Dad calls it, the "boat motor"). I removed the bay leaf and rosemary from the pot, then fired up the blender! It made short work of the beans and onions, and soon enough I had a lovely, smooth soup. Well, not completely smooth. I didn't want it to be the same consistency as baby food, I wanted it to be thick and hearty. As this is a more "rustic" style soup, a couple of errant beans in there is no big deal. And the best part-- LOTS of leftovers!

I included the apple for scale-- this is a hefty piece of equipment!

Action shot

Final plating: I finished with a drizzle of olive oil. Why not?

Could anything be cozier??!! This soup was sooo good. And really pretty easy-- if you don't have an immersion blender you can use a food mill, blender or food processor. I highly recommend this recipe on any cold, rainy, snowy or icy day!

Happy eating, and stay cozy!


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