Sunday, October 25, 2009

White Bean and Pasta Soup

20 recipes! Who would have thought I'd stick it out this long? I can honestly say it's been a "process", but I'm eating better (most days) and I've learned a lot. I'm a faster chopper of veggies now, and I even graduated to using a bigger - albeit scarier - knife yesterday. I still cry when I hack onions though.

I must say, as a warning, that if you do this whole recipe as I did (as in using the second one listed to prepare the beans), it will take you a while and will be fairly labour-intensive. I ended up doing the bean prep recipe last night and I finished the soup recipe this morning. It's confusing, I know. I did think about simply using canned beans for the soup recipe to make my life easier, but I'm trying to learn new things so I decided to do it from scratch the first time.

The bean prep recipe (Cannellini Beans with Sage) wasn't too bad overall, just time consuming. I made another batch of the Rib Stickin' Bean & Barley Soup (see Sept 1st blog entry), so by the time I got to this one, it was already 7pm. The package of beans I bought was heavier than I needed so I had to guesstimate how much a pound was. I haven't yet got a kitchen scale. I didn't have sage either so I used 3 bay leaves. Instead of kosher salt, I used half the amount required in sea salt. Apparently that's the way to go if you're substituting for kosher salt, just cut the amount called for in half. I love the internets.

I cheated a little bit on the bean soaking time. The recipe says overnight, but the package of beans says 3 hours so I used warmer water and went with the shorter time. The peppercorns are a bit of a PITA to remove later. I dug them out as they appeared in my slotted spoon at the end of the recipe, but I still found a few this morning. Not critical, just something to keep in mind. The garlic also fell apart somewhat so I had to retrieve a bit of floating garlic parts. For the record, the bean recipe will make far more than you need for the soup. I think I'll add all the extra cooked white beans to the Bean & Barley Soup I made earlier. It's either that or to the cookies I'm making next...

As for the White Bean & Pasta Soup I just made, I cut back a little on the freakin' onion, chopping up a large one instead of a whole 2 cups worth. Has onion got some super health benefit that I'm unaware of? Every bloody recipe seems to call for the crazy things! I also substituted 3 cups of the beef broth that was clogging up my fridge for the water, adding more water to make up the difference. That was the initial 3 1/2 cups of liquid called for, and by the end of the recipe, I'd added another 2 cups of water. Not that it makes a major difference, but I seeded and finely chopped 2 roma tomatoes instead of the large tomato. As for the green onion and drizzling of olive oil, I skipped those entirely.

During the 25 minutes or so of simmering time, I managed to wash the dishes I'd created, and chop up the cranberries needed for my cookies later today. I'm learning to use cooking time wisely!

The soup is quite good. Mine needed that last cup of water added at the end because it's quite thick, but it's tasty and hot and full of delicious goodness. Mmmm! I'd say the only overall drawback would be cooking with the never-ending headache that has plagued me off and on for a week now...

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