Tuscan Cannellini Beans with Shallots and Pancetta

tarry-marketSeveral weeks ago, Sheila and I enjoyed lunch at Tarry Market in Port Chester. Tarry Market is the brain-child of Mario Batali and Joe Bastianach and is a mini-Eataly for Greenwich residents who detest traveling to New York City.  Tarry Market has undergone a bit of makeover toward the end of last year, when they greatly expanded their dining facilities. I wouldn’t recommend it for dinner, but it is something of a cross between an Italian salumeria and a French Bistro. We go there frequently for lunch and are rarely disappointed. We will normally order one of their delicious sandwiches from the rotisserie (prime rib, porchetta or veal) with the daily soup. One day we were served a very tasty cannellini bean soup with some escarole or kale and Sheila decided to recreate this belly-warming soup at home.

Borrowing inspiration from Delia Smith’s Winter Collection, she prepared a variation of Tuscan White Bean soup with frizzled shallots and pancetta (Sheila’s variations are highlighted in bold). (Note:  The pancetta and shallots add a bit of crunch.  Definitely worthwhile). Enjoy.

Variations on Delia’s Tuscan White Bean Soup with Frizzled Shallots and Pancetta

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 8 oz of cannellini beans
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 fat cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 good sprig each of parsley, thyme and rosemary (Sheila added additional rosemary)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 head of escarole (chopped)
  • A small rind of parmesan cheese (This addition makes any soup taste great!)
  • 2 pints of chicken stock
  • 4 Tbs of extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • Salt and freshly milled pepper

Ingredients for Frizzled Shallots and Pancetta Garnish

  • 4 shallots, peeled and finely sliced into rings
  • 3 oz thinly sliced pancetta or streaky bacon
  • 3 Tbs of olive oil

Preparation of the Tuscan Soup

  • Soak beans overnight in twice their volume of cold water.  Drain before cooking.
  • Heat 2 Tbs of olive oil in a saucepan and sauté onion until is softens (5 minutes)
  • Add escarole and cook down (2 minutes or so)
  • Add garlic and continue to cook for one minute.
  • Add the drained beans, parmesan rind, celery, herbs, ay leaf and black pepper (but no salt).  Pour in the stock and stir well.
  • When soup begins to boil, turn down heat to a gentle simmer and place the lid on the pot.  Cook for 1 1/2 hours stirring occasionally.
  • Check to see if the beans are tender and then gently mush a few of the beans and continue for another 10 to 15 minutes or so.
  • Add lemon juice and 2 Tbs of olive oil shortly before serving.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Remove parmesan rind.  Allow it to cool slightly and then cut in small pieces and return to soup.

Preparation of Frizzled Shallots and Pancetta

  • Roll pancetta into a cigar shape then cut into fine shreds.
  • Heat 2 Tbs olive oil at high temperature and add shallots cooking them for about 3 to 4 minutes.  Remove and allow to drain.
  • Add 1 Tbs olive oil to the same pan and fry the pancetta for 2 minutes or so.  Drain.

When you are ready to serve the soup, sprinkle the shallots and pancetta over the soup.  It doesn’t get much better than this!

 

Chicken Soup: Better than a Flu Shot?

chicken soupWhen you get to be my age, there is a “big” push at this time of year by pharmaceutical companies to get your FREE flu shot.  I am not sure if this is simply an Obamacare benefit or rather a promotional offer by CVS to encourage Americans to restock their medicine chests for the cold winter. Nevertheless, I continue to resist the FREEBIE on the simple premise that it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense to introduce “foreign” antibodies into my body. Sheila thinks differently and has accused me of suffering from some mental disorder after escaping the siege at the Branch Dividians’ Compound in Waco, Texas.   Now that the Bird Flu (aka avian influenza) has appeared in the United Kingdom killing three mute swans in Dorset, I have decided to ingest my own personal remedy:  Chicken broth.

GourMay’s Organic Chicken Broth

Ingredients

  • Carcass of an organic chicken,
  • A carrot cut in three large pieces;
  • A stock of celery cut in three or more large pieces;
  • Half of an onion cut in a couple of large pieces,
  • A sprig of thyme,
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Preparation (makes a 1 1/2 to 2 cups)

  • Most people can get about four servings from a roasted chicken.  For broth, simply strip the chicken meat from the carcass and break down the carcass so that it will easily fit into a large sauce pan;
  • Cover the carcass in cold water, add the carrot, celery, onion and thyme and bring to a boil;
  • Reduce the heat and allow it to simmer uncovered for about an hour or so until most of the meat is off the carcass;
  • Strain the broth through cheese cloth or a very fine wire mesh strainer and discard the carcass and veggies.

Unless you are in perfect physical condition – like “Bogey” Pinson – and drink a cup a day of organic chicken broth, you are likely to get the flu.  In that case you will need “Get Better Soup” that was featured in Gourmay in 2011.

Roasted Potato and Leek Soup

IG-LeekSoupIna Garten, aka the “Barefoot Contessa,” is one of our favorite resources for tasty recipes. As this winter never seems to want to end, we decided to seek out a hearty soup recipe with a taste profile that is a bit out of the ordinary.  Ina is usually a good resource to consult.  We came up with this soothing and very tasty recipe for potato and leek soup.  Enjoy.

Found below is Ina Garten’s Roasted Potato and Leek Soup recipe from her Back to Basics cookbook.

Roasted Potato and Leek Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
  • 4 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts, cleaned of all sand (4 leeks)
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups baby arugula, lightly packed
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine, plus extra for serving
  • 6 to 7 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 8 ounces creme fraiche
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for garnish
  • Crispy Shallots, recipe follows, optional

Crispy Shallots:

  • 1 1/2 cups olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 5 to 6 shallots, peeled and sliced into thin rings

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Combine the potatoes and leeks on a sheet pan in a single layer. Add the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and toss to coat the vegetables evenly. Roast for 40 to 45 minutes, turning them with a spatula a few times during cooking, until very tender.
  • Add the arugula and toss to combine. Roast for 4 to 5 more minutes, until the arugula is wilted. Remove the pan from the oven and place over 2 burners.
  • Stir in the wine and 1 cup of the chicken stock and cook over low heat, scraping up any crispy roasted bits sticking to the pan.
  • In batches, transfer the roasted vegetables to a food processor fitted with the steel blade, adding the pan liquid and about 5 cups of the chicken stock to make a puree.
  • Pour the puree into a large pot or Dutch oven. Continue to puree the vegetables in batches until they’re all done and combined in the large pot. Add enough of the remaining 1 to 2 cups of stock to make a thick soup.
  • Add the cream, creme fraiche, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and check the seasonings.

When ready to serve, reheat the soup gently and whisk in 2 tablespoons white wine and 1/4 cup of Parmesan. Serve hot with an extra grating of Parmesan and crispy shallots, if using.

Crispy Shallots:

Heat the oil and butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat until it reaches 220 degrees F on a candy thermometer.

Reduce the heat to low, add the shallots, and cook for 30 to 40 minutes, until they are a rich golden brown. The temperature should stay below 260 degrees F. Stir the shallots occasionally to make sure they brown evenly. Remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon, drain well, and spread out to cool on paper towels. Once they have dried and crisped, they can be stored at room temperature, covered, for several days.

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