Monday, January 31, 2011


Hello faithful reader(s)!

A lot has changed in my life in the past month or so. 
  1. I got a job! I am now an assistant professor for a school in Rhode Island!
  2. I had to move. A 2.5 hour commute each way, each day just wasn't going to be possible.
  3. I started my job! Teaching 5 sections of General Psychology does take some time out of my day.
  4. I haven't started getting paid yet.
What this means is that I haven't bought any new fabric in a while. I also haven't worked on my quilt. I have enough fabric, that needs to be cut and basted, to make another couple dozen hexagons, which is good! But I haven't had the energy to pull it out and work on it in the past month...

Instead, my energy has gone into making food! Glorious food!

Right before I moved into my friends' house to live for 5 months, I got a couple of cooking for one cookbooks. I love food, I like cooking, but I hate leftovers. I don't think I need to tell you that the vast majority of the cookbooks out there in the world include recipes that serve 4-8 people. So up until now, a lot of my cooking for myself has been sandwiches or salads or quesadillas. 

It gets old.

Now that I'm on my own again, and everyone has to eat at some point, I've been putting my energy and money into cooking! For one! 

Last week I made a smaller version of this soup and just had one leftover portion. That was perfect. The beans were better the next day anyway. I also got some pre-cooked, frozen dinner rolls that heat up very nicely in my toaster oven. They make an excellent sponge for the yummy broth as well.

Last night, I made a full recipe of the soup. That's how good it is. I want to eat its leftovers. OM NOM NOM. So I thought I would share the process with you. Here is Dr. RAR's adaptation of Smitten Kitchen's adaptation of Dan Barber's [greens] and white bean stew.

1 pound Swiss chard (can also swap kale, spinach or another green), ribs and a couple of cups baby spinach, stems removed and cleaned
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup (5 1/4 ounces) chopped carrots
1 cup (5 ounces) chopped celery bleh, celery. Didn't use. BECAUSE I'M A GROWN UP.
1 cup (4 1/4 ounces) chopped shallots, about 4 medium (the first time I used regular old onion and it was still yummy(
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cup dry white wine (I used Riesling because that's the kind of white wine I like to drink)
2 15-ounce cans (or about 3 3/4 cups) white beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups (or more to taste) vegetable broth
1 cup pureed tomatoes (from a can/carton/your jarred summer supply) (I used a can of tomato puree since I no longer live with Courtney P and her garden)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 fresh thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar I don't have any. Yet. Thought it was fine without it.

First thing you want to do is heat up some olive oil int he bottom of your soup pot and throw in your garlic, shallots (or onions) and carrots.

Smitten Kitchen says to cook them for 15 minutes, but mine didn't take that long. Maybe ten. Keep an eye on them. 
Also, if for some reason you wanted to add celery, now would be the time to do it. 

While those veggies are cooking (is garlic a veggie?), get your other ingredients ready. Drain and rinse your beans, and get your liquids all measured and poured.
That would be the white wine in the pyrex. It goes in first and has to cook down, giving you time to measure out your veggie stock in the same pyrex, saving dishes you need to do later. Ta da!
And when you open your tiny can of tomato sauce, be sure to slosh some down the side and onto the counter. OK?

Never let it be said that I am Martha Stewart. I am messy. Particularly when working with corn starch, but that's another story.
One that I didn't take pictures of.
ALRIGHT, while your white wine is reducing in the pot with your veggies, you also need to get your herbs together. Aren't herbs pretty?
Three sprigs of thyme and one very old bay leaf. 
When your soup is done, you will need to fish out these four pieces. Last night, I only found three of them. There is a sprig of thyme waiting somewhere in my leftovers to surprise me.

Now that your wine has reduced, pour in the stock, tomatoes, and beans. The stock should cover the beans. If you like soupier soup, add more veggie stock. If you prefer stew, don't.
Though I must say, this broth ends up really tasty. I normally prefer stew to soup because drinking the leftover broth makes me feel bloated. This broth, though, gives such rich opportunity to eat bread and sop it up.
Now you wait. Well, bring the soup to a boil first, turn it down to simmer, and then wait. And you want to simmer this deliciousness for at least 20 minutes. Gotta cook those beans!  Uncooked beans are not good.

I'll bet you thought I forgot about the baby spinach, didn't you?
While your soup/stew is simmering, pull out your spinach and wash it. Then pull the tough stems off of the bigger leaves. I went with this much. That's one soup bowl piled high. 2-3 cups.  The recipe calls for a full pound of the greens you choose (past iterations of the recipe used kale and chard), but I thought the whole bag of spinach would be a bit much. 
Throw the spinach in the last 5 minutes of your cooking time.  

Heat a roll, ladle it up, and enjoy!

Are you drooling right now? You're totally drooling now, aren't you?

P.S. See the Smitten Kitchen link for creative ideas on serving the soup!

A word about leftovers:
I ate a large bowl of the soup, put some in my travel-soup container, and had this much leftover. I froze it, and I'll report later on how it reheats.
Also, have I mentioned that I'm bad at judging volumes for leftover storage purposes?

1 comment:

  1. Somehow I missed that you have a blog. Now that i am "in the know" I will be leaving you comments and reading your blog. We have one too in case you are interested--
    Love ya!