For a Blizzard-filled Day, a Hearty Bean Soup

Yesterday, we had a bona fide BLIZZARD in Minneapolis.

A side view of my front stoop. That's about 2.5 feet of snow that piled up against the door.

Somewhere - under 4-5 feet of snowdrifts - is my car. It took over an hour to shovel it - and my driveway/alley - clear enough so that I could leave.

This gentleman saved me. I'd been shoveling snow for well over an hour. The final 25% of work I had left took him only a few minutes.

Knowing snow was on its way, I had planned on making a weather-appropriate pureed bean soup with chard & poached eggs with a friend.  I’d been pining to make this recipe for well over a year, since Annie gave me this fabulous book about beans.  I’m lucky to have braved the market the night before.  Facing the mass of harried customers fearing the snowpocalypse was certainly not ideal, but it was possible.  Had I tried to pick up ingredients yesterday, I don’t think I would have made it.

I took no pictures during the process – I was cooking with a friend, who blogs here. But here’s a picture of the final product, as well as the recipe.

With homemade garlic croutons and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, this was intensely satisfying.

Range Restaurant’s Cellini Bean Soup with Chard and Poached Eggs

(From Steve Sando and Vanessa Barrington’s Heirloom Beans: Great Recipes for Dips and Spreads, Soups and Stews, Salads and Salsas, and Much More from Rancho Gordo; Chronicle Books, San Francisco, 2008)

  • ½ pound Cellini beans, soaked (note: I used canellini beans instead, as my co-op didn’t have cellini beans)
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 bunch green chard
  • Salt
  • 6 slices day old hearty bread, cut from a large loaf, crusts removed
  • 1/3 cup plus 4 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 T white vinegar
  • 1 egg per person you are serving

Put the beans and their soaking water in a stockpot and add cold water if need to cover the beans by 1 inch.  Put the garlic on a piece of cheesecloth, gather the corners, and tie the bundle securely.  Add to the pot.

Put the pot over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer.  Reduce the heat to low and slowly cook the beans, uncovered, until tender, 1 to 1.5 hours.  Add water to the pot as necessary to keep the beans submerged.  Gently stir the beans once or twice to prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of water to a boil.  Remove the chard leaves from inner stems, reserving the stems, and tear the leaves into 1- to 2-inch pieces.  Trim the tough outer edges and base of the stems.  Slice the stems on the diagonal into thin matchsticks.  Generously salt the boiling water.  Add the chard leaves and cook until tender, 2 to 3 minutes.  Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a colander to drain.  Repeat with the chard stems.  When the chard is cool enough to handle, squeeze gently to remove excess water.  Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Tear the bread into small pieces and put in a medium bowl.  While tossing, drizzle the bread with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Put the bread on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast until very crisp and golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes.  Let the bread cool on the pan.  Crumble the toasted bread if you want smaller pieces.

When the beans are tender, season them with salt and pepper.  Remove the cheesecloth bundle from the pot, unwrap and remove the garlic cloves.  Ladle out about half the beans with their broth and put in a blender.  Add the garlic cloves and the 1/3 cup olive oil.  Puree until smooth.  If necessary, blend the hot soup in small batches as it can splatter and burn you.  Adjust the liquid remaining in the pot if necessary.  For a thinner soup, leave most or all the liquid in the pot; for a thicker soup, remove some liquid.  Add the pureed beans to the pot and set over medium heat.   Add the chard and chard stems.  Taste and adjust the seasonings.  Keep warm.

Fill a medium saucepan with cold water and salt the water.  Heat the water over medium heat.  Break each egg into a cup.  When the water is barely simmering, add the vinegar.  Slide the eggs, one at a time, into the water, trying to keep the eggs as compact as possible.  Cook the eggs until the whites are set and the yolks are still soft, 2 to 3 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, remove each poached egg from the water and place it in the middle of a warmed soup bowl.  Carefully ladle the soup around the eggs so the yolks stay intact.  Sprinkle the soup with the bread, drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and season with pepper.

In the meantime, for all its inclement weather, this remains true.

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One Response to For a Blizzard-filled Day, a Hearty Bean Soup

  1. Pingback: Three feet of snow, six months in Hades, whatevs. « No Mixed Drinks

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