Wednesday, November 15, 2006

One of the best recipes, Ever

I love to check out cookbooks from the library. Rarely do I find one that I would actually like to own. But the recipe that I'm about to share with you is from such a wonderful cookbook that I've renewed it too many times to count--I think I'm going on a year now. Here is the title: Lidia's Family Table by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich (Alfred A. Knopf, New York: 2004). Here is the recipe that we love. But wait, before I write it, I must tell you that since the first time I ever made this recipe, I have made it nearly weekly. It is a staple of our diet. As soon as it runs out, we are ready for more. Okay, here is the recipe:

Soup Base of Garlicky White Beans and Broth

For Cooking the Beans:
1 pound (about 2 1/2 cups) dry white beans, soaked overnight
4 quarts cold water, plus more if needed
3 bay leaves
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, plus more if needed

For the Garlicky Soffritto:
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 big garlic cloves, sliced
1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes


Cooking the Beans: Drain the soaked beans and put them in the pot with the water, bay leaves, and olive oil. Cover the pot, and bring it to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally [Andrea's note: if I'm not paying attention, mine always froth up and boil over, so keep an eye on this first stage--stirring prevents this]. When the water is at a full boil, set the cover ajar, adjust the heat to maintain a steady gentle boiling, and cook for an hour more, until the beans are tender. Stir in the salt, uncover, and continue cooking at a bubbling boil for another hour or more, until the beans and broth have reduced to 3 quarts. Lower the heat as the liquid evaporates and the soup base thickens, stirring now and then to prevent scorching [Andrea's note: I burned mine once because I wasn't careful enough about scraping the beans off the bottom of the pot when I stirred].

Flavoring the Base with the Soffritto: When the soup base is sufficiently reduced, make the soffritto. Heat the olive oil and the sliced garlic in a skillet over medium heat for 2 mintures or so, shaking the pan now and then, until the slices are sizzling. Drop in the red pepper flakes, stir with the garlic, and cook another minute, or until the garlic is just starting to color [Andrea's note: don't overcook the garlic or it will get bitter]. From the soup pot, ladle out a cup of the simmering bean broth and pour it into the skillet. Let it sizzle and start to boil, shake and stir up the soffritto, and cook if for a couple of minutes in the broth. Then pour it all back into the bean pot, scraping in every bit of the soffritto, or just rinse the skillet out with more broth. Simmer the soup base for another 5 minutes with the soffritto, then remove from the heat. The base is ready for a finished soup now.

Now, to make what Lidia calls "a finished soup", just add stuff to the base, and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Some of the additions we've loved: any kind of greens (beet greens, chard, spinach, mustard greens, kale, etc.); zucchini; cauliflower; squash; elbow macaroni. Lidia recommends chicken or shrimp (we haven't tried those, yet). For super extra yumminess, garnish each individual serving with some chopped bacon and parmesan cheese.


Anonymous said...

deliscious soup! larry dewey

potato girl said...

Dad, you commented! Yay!

richards said...

I had it for lunch today.

Lessie Louie said...

I thought that you actually owned that book. The library should have some kind of rent-to-own program or something.

potato girl said...

It would be nice if the library would notice how long I've had their book and just offer it to me as a birthday gift, don't you think?

Anonymous said...

I can attest that the soup is the best. My favorite so far is when it's made with spinach. Nana Teresa

Tim said...

Andrea, when I copied and pasted the recipe into Word, it fit perfectly on one page! That's some amazing recipe parlaying! I'm excited to try the recipe. I think I'll add one final thing to the list: 5 or 6 beano tablets.