Saturday, January 26, 2013
Times Like These
We're climbing our way out of the sub-zeros. Now it's melting on my roof (which is flat), draining down the pipes and freezing on the ground. We're a little schizie.
One of my FB friends skidded and landed hard enough to wind up with two shiners; another friend has a home in the hills, lovely as far as that goes, but her straight-up driveway is paved with black ice; yesterday my car was frozen shut; a friend with a home and a family at the end of a charming rural lane can't get out. Treacherous is her word.
There's a part of me that wants to whine; there's another part that suggests we are world-class whimps, although there is nothing whimpy about minus 4 degrees. The only thing that survives intact is our sense of humor. Like life, we're all in this thing together.
We're having a heat wave this next week: low to mid-thirties. It's still soup weather. One of the few things that still makes sense in our long, strange winter. My bank had south seas shirts and leis in bright warm colors. Even that little bit of a diversion helped.
So, here's another soup. Bean and pasta soups are ancient as ancient Rome. This one originated with Martha. Of course, I added some stuff.
Here's where you have some choices: I like to cook my own dried beans. So bring a couple of handfuls of your favorite beans to a boil and cook them with a little salt for an hour. See how tender they are and if they need a little more time.
Saute' 1 chopped onion and 3 chopped garlic cloves in a skim of olive oil and a little salt. Prepare 4 short, fat carrots and 3 or 4 stalks of celery by slicing them into coins or half moons. Add a pinch of salt and add them to the veg.
If you don't have the time to cook the beans, a can of your favorite beans, rinsed, works just fine. Drain them and add them to the veg.
Add 1 carton of low sodium chicken broth and a chopped red pepper. Add a healthy handful of dried oregano, some fennel, half a bunch of fresh, flat-leafed parsley. Let everything simmer slowly.
In another pot, prepare your favorite pasta al dente. A couple of handfuls will do it. Drain and add at the last minute. The pasta will continue to cook as you add it to the soup. At the last, add a couple of handfuls of winter greens: kale works. Cut it from the tough stalk, then cut the pieces small enough for a bite. Let it cook for 15 minutes.
Finish off the soup with a couple of tablespoons of grated cheese. You want a melty, ooie-gooie cheese. I like to put the grated cheese in the bottom of the soup bowl, then ladle the soup over it. The cheese adds a highly satisfying treat. I used a Tillamook Garlic Cheddar, something that melts. It's a wonderful surprise at the bottom of the bowl. Perfect for times like these.