Monday, November 22, 2010

a foray into dried beans

ive heard they're better but its been hard to convince me that soaking and boiling are worth my time. but i bought some white beans and tried it last week to make this hearty minestrone soup and it was a feat i'll repeat again. it lasted a while even though it said it only made four servings, and it tricked me as well because the cook book, food and wine 2010, had two recipes for minestrone soup one with a picture and one without, and while i thought i was making the one in the picture i soon realized that it was actually the one without. obviously this soup and i were fated to come together and i am very glad we did.

1 1/4 cup dried white beans, i used cannelli
3 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
2 oz pancetta, finely diced
2 medium shallots, i left this out
2 large celery ribs, finely diced
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 large carrot, finely diced
1/2 fennel bulb, cored and diced, i'd never used a fennel bulb but it smelled like licorce and was a nice addition
1/2 teaspoon crused red pepper
2 bay leaves, i also left this out , i don't understand why you put something in only to take it out, i just don't feel it must be very necessary, but i should give it a try one of these days
2 tblsp tomato paste
1 14 oz can plum tomatoes, juices reserved
1 qt low-sodium chicken broth, i used half this amount maybe, and substituted water
salt and pepper

in a large pot, cover the beans with 2 inches of water and bring to a boil. simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until tender about two hours, add water as necessary to keep the beans covered. ( i soaked them for longer so i only boiled them for 1 hour)

meanwhile, in another large pot ( i hate using another pot so i did the beans before and then put them in the bowl they'd soaked in and used the original pot for the next steps)heat 2 tblsp of the olive oil. add the pancetta and cook over moderate heat until the fat has rendered and the pancetta is crip, about four minutes. add the shallots, celery, onion, carrot and fennel and cook, stirring occassionally until the vegetables are softened, about 6 minutes. add the garlic, crused red pepper and bay leaves and cook, stirring until fragrant about two minutes. add the tomato paste and cook. stirring, until it sticks to the bottom of the pot, about two minutes. stir in the plum tomatoes and chicken broth, bring to a boil. simmer over low heat until the vegetables are very tender and the soup is flavorful, about 1 hour. add the beans and enough of the reserved cooking liquid to thin out the soup. discard the bay leaves and season with salt and pepper. now that the weather is changing its the perfect winter soup.

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