Thursday, December 27, 2007

Recipe: Easy Provincial Bean Soup

You say Provencal - I say provincial: the difference is in the mind of the speaker. But is a crock pot of bean soup anything but rustic?
We usually (for 36 years?!?) have either ham or a turkey but I was hoping on this Christmas Day 2007 to have an easy to serve, non-traditional main dish.
After a month of parties, we're all ready for some relief from the groaning table. And there have been some pressing medical issues in the family, so the company was the point, not the production number.
But it all worked out anyway that there was too much food for the feast, and not nearly so much cleanup as post Thanksgiving. And grandma had time to hold her granddaughters, the best gift.

Here's the menu we had this year:
Provincial Bean Soup (made with turkey stock from the Thanksgiving bird and home grown herbs)
Dearborn Holiday sausage, provided and grilled by son, Skip
Cheesy potatoes, provided by son, Tony
Pumpkin Bread (made with puree from the little pie pumpkins, cooked and frozen after Halloween)
Herbed Potato Rolls (link) (made with home grown herbs)

Cheese spread and crackers, chips and dip
Veggie tray and dip

and for dessert:
Brownies, provided by Tony
and, Tada! Blueberry pie (made by Herb with berries we picked at a local farm)

We completely forgot to break into the tin of gingerbread boys, that I've been safe keeping since I made them around Thanksgiving. Oh well, there's another weekend get-together coming, when Patrick finally gets here.

Everyone liked the soup, especially with the grilled sausage and no one complained about the break from tradition, so I'm thinking next year maybe gumbo or chili? I have an authentic gumbo recipe that's lotsa fun.

This bean soup recipe is really easy, because I use the beans that come in a bottle, already cooked, and jazz it up. Everyone thinks you made it from scratch. I used to soak and cook the beans, and believe me, this way is just as good. Herb Sr. said it was excellent, so I must have done something right. Here's the recipe, my riff on the recipe on the bottle of Randall Great Northern Beans:

Provincial Bean Soup

Heat a quart of your best(frozen) turkey broth until warm and pour in crock pot. Turn crock pot on and set to high.
Tie some twigs of fresh rosemary together with a length of dental floss and put the bundle into the broth to take out before serving. (I also added a few small fresh bay leaves but forgot to fish them out.)
Meanwhile, pour a bit of e.v. olive oil in a hot skillet. In the hot oil, saute about a generous cup each of minced onions, celery and carrots and about 4-5 crushed garlic cloves until they are softened and starting to color.
Add a large jar of beans and warm. Stir it all into the crock pot with the broth.
Add a handful of chopped dried tomatoes (the recipe calls for diced canned tomatoes), sprinkle with ground bay leaf (I grind my dried bay leaves in a dedicated coffee grinder), fresh ground black pepper, and lots of fresh thyme. (The recipe also calls for chopped fresh parlsey, but I forgot to add it. Oh Well!)
Cook on high until it boils and begins to thicken, a few hours, then turn down to keep at serving warmth.
Serve with shaved Parmesan cheese, rolls and sausages. Bon apetit.

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