Friday, October 19, 2007

Five Bean Chili and Minestrone

With the weather cooling and our pockets tight (*shakes first at student loans*) I've been making lots of soup. I made a veggie noodle concoction that was intended to be a light watery minestrone earlier this week. It used up a lot of the veggies I had lying around the house from farmer's market this weekend, and was really fabulous when dressed up with a baguette, some parmesan, and pesto, care of my neighbor Ruth.

The pesto was the right herby bite I needed to cut the tomato broth. It was yummy, healthy, and very easy. Skotye tried to take pictures in my woefully under lit dining room. They're not great, but I posted them since they're all I have.
I'm working to push my food studio beyond the sad single lamp I use for lighting. Soon enough...

Researching for this blog, I discovered the true definition of 'minestrone'. The root word is minestra, Italian for 'soup'. According to my food-lover's dictionary, 'minestrina' is a thin broth, while 'minestrone refers to a thick vegetable soup that generally contains pasta and sometimes peas or beans'. (390)
I discovered that this soup is indeed a true minestrone.


in an enamel dutch oven or stockpot with a heavy bottom
begin by sautéing in a mix of olive oil and a little butter

1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 lb. green beans, chopped into 1 in. pieces
3 roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped

Sautee for 2 minutes. Then add
2 lbs. 93/7 ground beef
2 tsp. salt

Once cooked through, add

1 28 oz. can of chopped canned tomatoes
5 cloves of garlic, minced (we eat a lot of garlic. you could easily use just one clove)
puree of 5 roma tomatoes, roughly chopped and pulsed in the food processor.

(to accomplish this step, I usually put my garlic in the food processor first to mince it, and then add the chopped tomatoes and puree)

(Here you can do any combination of liquid tomatoes. If you don't have any fresh on hand, all canned is fine, and vice versa. It's delicious made with all fresh tomatoes.)

Stir, getting any brown bits off the bottom of the pan.
This should look like a slightly watery version of what you'll end up with, so be mindful of the ratio of liquid to meat. Add the pureed tomatoes a little at a time. If you still don't have the desired texture, you may add water or beef stock.

Cook this until thick. Here it still needs a few minutes-

Once it's close to the consistency you want, add
10 oz. noodles (I used whole wheat egg noodles, macaroni or cavatappi would work fine.)

cook until the noodles are al dente. They will get mushy eventually, unfortunately. I have yet to work this issue out.

Taste for seasoning.
At the last minute, stir in

1-1 1/2 c. shredded parmesan

This will help the soup thicken and give it tons of flavor.
Serve with toasted slices of baguette, more shredded parmesan, and a dollop of room-temperature pesto.
Here is Scott's artful portrayal (including some lovely martini-glass candles and my bracelet for some reason...)


yum. reheats well, minus the noodle issue. I'm thinking I may need to blanch them instead of cooking them in the soup, but I still think they'd get soggy.

You can see the tomato skins in these photos. They don't bother me, but if they bother you, you'll want to slice an X into the base of the tomato skin, boil for 2 minutes, then plunge into very cold water. The skins will peel right off.

Five Bean Chili

This is a go-to recipe for me in the cooler months. It's cheap, easy, and really filling. It really is the dinner version of dump cake. You open about 6 cans and you're done. We love it with aged cheddar.

Begin by sautéing in a mixture of olive oil and a little butter (Is that how ALL of my recipes start?!)

1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 lbs. 93/7 ground beef
2 tsp. salt

once brown, add

1 12 oz. can of beer
1 15 oz. can black beans
1 15 oz. can great northern beans
1 15 oz. can garbanzo beans
1 15 oz. can red kidney beans
1 12. oz can chili starter beans
1 28 oz. can of chopped tomatoes
1-2 c. water/beef stock
2 tsp. fresh ground cumin

This will result in a mess that looks something like this...

I do not drain or rinse the beans I use for this recipe. I think the liquid they come in is nice and salty, and really helps to thicken the soup. If you're watching your sodium, you may want to drain and rinse them, add a little more water, and check for seasoning at the end.

now, just simmer for as long as you can stand it. Be sure that you've got it at a gentile simmer and not a full on boil. (as I've read, boiled soup is spoiled soup.)
It should look like the tar pits, only with tomato. Like this-

Absolutely delicious with aged white cheddar and a pilsner, but if you're on the cheap, the plain yellow stuff and whiskey do just fine in the right company.

No pictures of the final product; a testament to its deliciousness, I suppose.

Both of these soups would be equally delicious without the meat for all our veggie friends out there. In fact, they're both vegan if the meat is removed, too.

Soup is a great way to get your veggies, and apparently cooking tomatoes allows our bodies to better use the lycopene in them than when they're fresh, so eat up! Also, either of these, like most soups, would do great in a slow cooker.

The hubby and I were lucky enough to be invited to a Food Bazaar at the local Korean Baptist Church by a student of mine. We had dinner there this evening and it was fantastic. More on that soon...


MrsPresley said...

i just made chili tonight too! i have always just used kidney beans, maybe next time i'll try all the different beans :)

MrsPresley said...

the minestrone looks really good, too!

Lindsey B said...

this mrspresley person seems to always be making what you are! next time you should make something that's just.... crazy, just to test it.
Have you watched that movie yet?

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