learning how to cook everything...

I love it when I get to use one recipe for two different posts. I have been really challenged as a member of I Heart Cooking Clubs to stretch my cooking wings. It's a fabulous concept of spending six months with one cookbook author so we can really explore their work. I have heard of Mr. Bittman but had never made anything from his body of work.

So this week I got to really dig into his MANY cookbooks thanks to the local library system. Since my creative cooking time was really limited this week I decided to go with a simple recipe. I chose White Bean Soup from his cookbook How to Cook Everything: the basics. This recipe allowed me to use what I had on hand including a bag of dried white beans from the pantry AND the carrots, celery and onions that were crying out in loneliness from the crisper thereby qualifying it for this weeks:

What I loved about this recipe was how versatile it is. I could add in pretty much anything I wanted/needed to. So I used carrots, celery, garlic, mushrooms and onions and the very last of the Easter ham. I was inhaling this glorious smell all afternoon and by the time dinner was served I wanted to bathe in this velvety rich soup. I served it with a fresh loaf of Rosemary Garlic bread and a green salad.

Oh baby was it yummy and I am not just saying that because I was freakin starving. It was creamy without a drop of cream only chicken broth and a blender. I seasoned it with salt, pepper and some fresh thyme I had left in the crisper. I had some very happy people sidle up to the dinner table last night.

So, Mr. Bittman, you and I are off to a very nice start in this new relationship. I look forward to getting to know you better over the coming months.

If you want to join in on the fun, head on over to I Heart Cooking Clubs or lifeasmom.com. We would love to have you!!

Celebrate the Feast!
White Bean Soup
recipe adapted from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything:the basics.

1 1/2 cups navy, pea or other dried white beans, washed and picked over.
About 6 cups chicken stock
(or vegetable or beef depending on your preference)
I medium onion, quartered
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
minced fresh parsley leaves for garnish

Place the beans, stock and water, and onion in a large, deep saucepan or casserole; turn the heat to medium-high. when it boils, turn the heat down to medium-low and cover partially. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are very soft, at least one hour.

Saute 1 cup of chopped carrots, onions, mushrooms and celery in another saucepan in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until soft. Add 1 tablespoon of finely chopped garlic and saute one minute further.

Add vegetables, beans to the blender. Add as much chicken stock as you prefer. I like the soup a little thicker than most but you decide how thick you like it. Salt and pepper to taste.

This is where things get fun. I added one cup chopped ham and my guys were so happy for a little floating pig. I have also added chopped grilled vegetables which is equally delicious.

There you have it. Getting back to basics never tasted so good!