Wednesday, April 11, 2012

White Bean, Anchovy and Chicory Soup

A very unexpected combination of flavors. This soup works!
I had a pasta with beans, anchovy and chicory in an Italian restaurant a couple weeks ago and the combination was so unusual and delicious that I decided I had to try it without the pasta.

Here it goes:

3 tablespoons of finely minced good qualityAnchovies. (the ones that come in olive oil. Careful with the ones that come packed in salt. it may be too salty. use less, or "hydrate them" with a little hot water  to remove some of the salt.)
1 tbsp olive oil.
3 large cloves of garlic, minced.
1 1/2 cup of white wine.
4 cups of cooked white beans. I cooked dry lima beans in the pressure cooker for 50 minutes but you can use from a can.
4 cups of coarsely chopped chicory.
a pinch of piment de'espelette ( cayenne would work too)
1 cup of chicken stock (low sodium) or more.

Start by sauteing the garlic in olive oil.  Add the anchovies, give it a nice stir to blend and make a runny paste. Add the wine and cook for a minute.
Add the beans with a little cooking liquid, and the piment de'espelette or cayenne and let it simmer for 3 minutes.
Add the chicken stock, let it simmer for a 5 minutes and add the chicory, mixing well. You may want to add a little more chicken stock at this point.
Simmer for another 6 minutes and check the salt. You want to add the salt at the very end. Also, adjust
the pepper if you like a little spicier and add a little splash of wine if needed.
Serve with grated parmesan and a hot crusty sourdough or baguette.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Going Back to My Roots

I was never a fan of soup in my young hmm.. younger years.. I would always prefer when it was a puree than the chunky kind. Nothing like growing up. Nowadays, soup is one of my favorite winter staples. Right along with risotto and pasta. (Ok, I like pasta all year round)
I have been experimenting with some root vegetables and this week I made a sweet potato soup and a celery root soup.  It is very simple to make, and the order is always very similar.
Start by sauteeing chopped onions and garlic. (don't go crazy chopping them nice and small, because it will all go in the blender)
Add the cubed root of your choice, with some little extras to your taste, splash of wine, thyme, sage etc..
Add stock of choice.
Let it simmer for about half an hour, checking often and adding more water if needed, and pressing with a fork to check if it's soft.
Some people like the immersion blender right into the pot. I like to wait until it cools a little and use the blender. I find it easier to control how silky/creamy it is, and I love silky! Whatever your choice is, you will probably need to add more water when blending. Add by 1/2 cups and check if it's the thickness you like.
Pour it back to the pot and check the salt and pepper. In the case of the sweet potato (actually yam) I added sauteed smoked sausage and simmered some more and finished with some black kale.
With the celery root, I didn't add anything to the soup. It was so luscious like that, I just added a little salt and pepper.
Finishing touches:
I believe in garnishes. Not the little parsley sprig that you remove before eating. The dollop of something, the "cherry on top" for the soup world. It gets a soup from good to wonderful. It is a treat for the eyes and for the palate. It adds depth and extra nutrients making it a complete meal.
Garnishes can range from a seasoned dollop of sour cream or yogurt, to grated hard cheeses like parmesan, gouda or cheddar, a nice crouton or toast, or quick sauteed veggies or meat.
I garnished the celery root soup with sauteed chanterelles with shredded chicken.
The yam soup was garnished with a little kale salad.

I usually finish with a drizzle of some nice quality oil. There are so many to choose from and they really add extra flavor. In this case, it was extra virgin olive oil. Sometimes I use walnut, lemon, or truffle. There are so many to try!