Friday, April 03, 2020

Comfort Food in a Soup

Strange times we are living in. I had my first ever virtual doctor's visit...well, actually it was with his Physician Assistant, but she is great and took care of my issue just fine. It was on Zoom and fortunately I had downloaded the app to my tablet before that, but hadn't had an actual Zoom session, so I didn't know how to turn on the video...she could hear me and I could see and hear her. That afternoon I did a session with my daughter and she uses Zoom all the time for business, so she was able to walk me through. The next evening I had a Zoom gathering with my siblings...this is certainly a great way to connect as long as there is nothing secret we want to protect. Heard that with the astronomical boost in use that Zoom is having a hard time with security.

Another thing that has come with this pandemic is the urge to bake. Turns out that I should have bought up some extra yeast and bread flour prior to the shelter-in-place orders. None to be had for love nor money. I have revived my sourdough starter, so that will help, but I have a yen to bake hot cross buns and that works better with a sweet dough, not a sour one, I think. If you want to mail me a packet of yeast, send me an email and I'll email you my address.

I did find a nice pound of Great Northern dry white beans in the pantry and a ham hock in the freezer, so I made up one of my favorite comfort foods that isn't filled with sugar...Country Bean and Cabbage Soup. You do have to soak the beans overnight and also let them boil after that but before making the soup, so this isn't an instant meal by any means. The good news is that as things simmer for hours, your house smells really great! It also makes a lot of soup. The soup is good for many days, too, and improves in taste over time (for at least 4-5 day, then I would freeze any leftovers). You may have the ingredients in your pantry, too. If you do, give it a try. It's a hearty, savory, filling soup that is like a warm hug.

As usual, I didn't follow the recipe exactly. For one thing I had no parsley, so no 'bouquet', just some bay leaves tossed in and retrieved at the end. I was low on onions, so I just tossed in the cloves, too, and sliced up one onion. No tomato paste, so I squirted in some ketchup. It still smelled and tasted sublime!

Country Bean and Cabbage Soup

2 1/3 cup dry pea beans (Great Northern, white beans)
1 3-lb. cooked picnic ham (smoked pork shoulder), bone in
1 celery stalk, sliced
2 carrots, quartered and sliced
5 sprigs parsley + 2 bay leaves tied together
2 medium onion, sliced, plus 1 onion stuck with
3 whole cloves
4 garlic cloves, mashed
½ teaspoon EACH dried thyme & ground pepper
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 can tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 small head cabbage, sliced in ¼ inch slices

Cover beans with cold water and let stand overnight. Drain, cover with fresh water and bring to a boil. Turn off heat and soak for 1 hour. 

Drain and rinse, and return beans to the pot. Add ham. Add enough water to cover the beans. Bring to a low simmer and simmer 15 minutes. Add the vegetables, herbs, onions and seasonings to pot. Cover and simmer 1½  hours. 

Add the tomatoes and tomato paste, and simmer ½  hour. If tomatoes stay whole, chop them up with a spoon. 

Add the cabbage and simmer ½ hour. 

Make a roux of 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons flour, cooked in a small pan until light brown. Add it to soup. Remove herb bouquet and whole onion. Simmer 15 minutes. 

Taste and season with more salt and pepper as needed. Serves 8 - 10.

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