Monthly Archives: December 2012

16 Bean and Kale Soup

16 Bean and Kale Soup


There are some who believe that eating beans on New Year’s Day can bring you good fortune for the year ahead.  Beans are said to represent coins. I can’t promise you will win the lottery this year, but I do know that this soup is really good for you and it tastes really good!

I had a leftover ham bone from Christmas Eve dinner and used that, but you don’t need a ham bone to make this. You don’t even have to add any ham, but if you want that flavor, you can use a few slices of bacon or cube up some thickly sliced pieces of ham from the deli counter.

I used dried beans in this recipe, but skip that step if you’d like and use a combination of your favorite canned beans. Just rinse and drain them really well before adding them to the soup.

16 Bean and Kale Soup

Preparing the dried beans:
1 16 oz. package dried 16 Bean mix, rinsed and sorted
8 C. water
The Soup:
1 large onion, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
4 carrots, sliced
2 fresh bay leaves
1 sprig sage leaves
4 sprigs thyme leaves
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 ham bone
8 C. water
salt and pepper to taste
several large stalks of fresh kale, deveined and chopped
a few sprigs fresh parsley, chopped
Parmesan
In a large pot, combine the beans and the water and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil for 5 minutes, then shut the heat off and allow to sit for one hour.
Meanwhile, in another large pot, sauté the onion, celery, carrot and the herbs (tie the herbs in a bundle with some twine). After a few minutes, when the onions are softened, add the garlic and sauté for a minute or two. Add the ham bone and cook a few minutes longer.
Add the water and some salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat and simmer for one hour or more.
Once the beans have sat and have softened, drain and rinse them very well in a sieve under cold water and allow them to sit.
Remove the ham bone from the pot and the herb bundle and discard. Add the beans into the pot and simmer for about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and add more salt and pepper, if it needs it. Then add the kale, parsley and top with some freshly grated Parmesan for serving.

Notes:

  • When preparing the beans to soften, do not use any salt at all. Salt will make the skins of the beans very tough and unpalatable.
  • If you are not a fan of kale, you can use spinach in its place.

 

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Shrimp and Feta Risotto

Shrimp and Feta Risotto

Making risotto, to me, is like meditation. It involves all of your attention and focus on doing something so simple, repetitive and peaceful. It’s all about stirring the pot and adding the broth in intervals. Try this technique…you’ll end up in a trance that your family will probably knock you out of as they coming running into the kitchen, cheering, once they smell it cooking!

This dish was inspired by a recipe I had found in Food & Wine magazine over ten years ago! I have improvised it many times, but I think this version is my favorite. The tangy saltiness of the feta really is delicious against the richness of the risotto. I throw in some spinach because I love it. It adds some pretty color and lastly, spinach makes me feel just a little less guilty over eating this!

You can use any feta you like. I like to use French or Bulgarian feta because they are extremely creamy and they have a remarkable flavor that you’ll love. They honestly do not taste like any other feta. They work so well with risotto, where that creaminess is the goal.

 

Shrimp and Feta Risotto

6 C. chicken or vegetable broth, homemade or low-sodium
2 lbs. shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 T. unsalted butter
2 T. olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 C. arborio rice
3/4 C. dry white wine
6 – 8 large fresh basil leaves, torn
3 C. baby spinach
1/4 C. crumbled feta cheese
zest of one lemon
Parmesan, grated for serving

 

In a large pot over high heat, bring the broth to a boil. Add the shrimp and simmer for about 3 minutes covered until just cooked.  Be careful not to overcook them. Remove the shrimp with a slotted spoon or small sieve and keep them in a bowl until ready to use. Keep the stock on a medium low heat to continue simmering.

 

In another large and heavy bottomed pot, melt the butter and olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and sauté for about 5 minutes until softened, then add the garlic. Continue to cook for another 2 minutes, then add the rice. Stir to coat the rice with the oils and cook for about 2 minutes. Do not get any color on the rice. Add the wine and simmer until mostly evaporated.

 

Now…clear your mind…this is where you start to meditate…

 

Using a large ladle, add about one cup of broth to the risotto and stir. Keep stirring as the rice absorbs the broth. As soon as you see the rice becoming more dry, add another ladleful. And stir. And add. And stir. You get it.  Keep this up until the rice becomes tender and creamy, but still has some body. This will take about 25 minutes.

 

Remove the rice from the heat and add the shrimp, basil, spinach, feta and lemon zest. Serve with some freshly grated Parmesan on top.

 

Notes:

  • Food & Wine magazine had suggested a crisp Sauvignon Blanc with their version of risotto. I think either that, or a wonderful light Pinot Grigio would work well with this recipe.
  • If you feel the rice is done and you have a tiny bit of broth left, don’t feel that you have to keep cooking. If it’s done, it’s done. You don’t want mush. Save the broth though, you may find that once you remove the risotto from the heat and add the final ingredients, you may want to add that broth to “loosen” things up.