When the Cupboard is Bare… Slow Cooking Thursdays
April 10, 2008|Comments (none)
Taking a tip from other bloggers who post Slow-Cooker Thursday recipes, I’m posting my favorite bean soup and bean soup memory. When I was a little girl, I got to stay with my Aunt Nancy for a week one summer and she taught me to can grape jelly and we filled quart jars with Calico Bean Soup mix to give as gifts. On the top of each jar, she taught me to place a circle of colorful fabric (carefully cut out with pinking shears) and tie a ribbon around to hold it in place. They were lovely. Each jar had a paper card with instructions — typed on a typewriter! Aunt Nancy made me feel wonderful about everything from my fabric selection to the way that I attached the instruction cards. I am certain that a large part of my passion for cooking is owed to her.
Now that I am grown and can make up my own recipes, I often use a tried-and-true recipe (like Calico Soup) to create a base or simply swap out ingredients. Aunt Nancy is a big believer that a good cook can follow a recipe or create a meal from a fully-stocked kitchen but a TRUE cook can create a meal without a cookbook and with scarcely anything to work with.
Here’s my favorite “there’s nothing in the cupboards” soup:
- 1 cup great northern beans or garbanzo beans (can use a combination of both)
- 1 head of kale or bunch of collard greens (could also use spinach)
- 2 leeks
- 1 red onion
- 2 large red potatoes, sliced with a vegetable peeler and then diced
- 2 zucchinis or small yellow squash, diced
- 2 tomatoes, boiled & peeled, then chopped
- 4 cloves of fresh garlic, peeled & crushed
- 1 Lb. Italian sausage (I use turkey sausage), chopped & browned
- 3 artichokes
- 1/2 dried hot chili pepper
- the juice of one lemon
- chicken or vegetable stock
- olive oil
- seasoning (basic Italian seasoning)
Rinse and then soak the beans in plenty of water for at least eight hours. Drain and rinse again.
In a large kettle (I prefer cast iron), heat the olive oil, 2 cloves garlic, onion, and chili pepper. Let the onion turn a nice golden color and then add tomatoes, greens, and beans. You may need to add a bit more olive oil. Cover with chicken or vegetable stock and let simmer (covered with a lid) for about an hour and a half. You could dump everything in a slow-cooker pot instead of the stove-top method. You may need to add a bit more stock.
Trim the artichokes by breaking off the tough leaves and the top 2/3 of the remaining leaves. Dice the trimmed hearts into pieces. Place the artichoke hearts in a bowl with 1 cup of water and the juice of one lemon (this is called acidulated water) to prevent darkening. Let this sit while you crush you prepare the garlic, leeks, zucchini, sausage, and potatoes.
Pull out your trusty saute pan and heat olive oil, 2 cloves garlic, leeks, zucchini, drained artichokes,sausage, and potatoes. Toss in the oil and heat until the leeks are a soft golden color. Add to the kettle and bring to a boil. Let cook 20 minutes or until the artichokes are soft.
Add salt, rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, and black pepper to taste. Serve with thin slices of red onion on top and/or some grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese. Bread is quite nice with this soup, too!
Who inspired you to cook, garden, and/or sew?
In honor of wonderful chefs (like my Aunt Nancy), who inspire us all to be creative in the kitchen, here is Julia Child: