Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Bean and Kale Soup

Technically, this still counts as Pantry Project because I put my remaining Israeli Couscous and some of the bacon ends in it.  Neither were in the original recipe, but I thought they would round it out as a more complete meal without relying on a side of bread to fill me up.

Fine Cooking's original recipe is vegan and gluten-free.  It uses cannellini beans, which I'm not terribly fond of and couldn't find in dried or low-salt canned, so I subbed in Great Northern as a neutral white bean.  My version not only contains meat and gluten, it isn't even kosher.  It's still light for lunch or dinner, and a bit healthier than I expected.  While I was babysitting the house on construction days, I was not burning many calories.  Or getting anything useful done.  Or doing any errands that really need doing, like renewing my driver's license.  I have a month.

I'm starting a broth bag.  You'll see in a future post what I went through to get the broth for this recipe.  I don't waste much food in trimmings, so this could take a while.  I'll still probably need to buy an onion.  Maybe I'll debone some poultry for the blog so I can freeze the bones for a chicken stock lesson.

2/3 C dried white beans, or 1 15 oz can drained and rinsed
*4 slices thick-cut bacon
1-1/2 C diced yellow onion (about 1)
3/4 C diced carrot (about 1)
3/4 C diced celery (about 2 ribs)
*1/2 tsp dried rosemary
2 Tb tomato paste
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 qt low-salt vegetable broth
4 C (packed) kale, stems removed and cut in chiffonade
*1/2 C dry Israeli couscous
*kosher salt and cracked pepper to taste

1.  If cooking beans from dry, soak for 6 to 8 hours.  Drain.  Cover with 2" of water and a touch of salt, bring to a boil, and simmer for 1-1/2 hours.  Drain and set aside.  Go meet up with everyone who started on step 2.

2.  Cut bacon meat from fat and chop meat into bits.  Hang onto the fat a minute.  In a soup pot, cook the bacon over medium until done.  Set aside.  Add reserved bacon fat to pot and cook to render fat, about 10 minutes.  Remove solids and discard.

3.  In fat, sauté diced onion, carrot, and celery until soft, about 6 minutes.  Add tomato paste, rosemary, and garlic and continue to cook until fragrant, about 2 more minutes.  Add broth, beans, bacon, and kale and bring to a boil.  Simmer until everything is soft, 15 minutes.

4.  Stir in couscous and continue to simmer until pasta is done, about 10 minutes.  I know, you usually turn off the heat with Israeli couscous, but that's because you expect it to soak up all the liquid and don't want to scorch it.  There's no reason to do that in a soup.  Although, if the soup starts to look too thick, you can add a bit of water.

5.  Taste and add salt and pepper as necessary.  Serve hot.  If you want a garnish, try a bit of shredded parmesan cheese.

Difficulty rating :)

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