Thursday, January 15, 2015

Vegetarian Flageolet Soup: A Perfect Solution

It's a very rich soup that doesn't taste typically vegetarian.  The beans get very starchy and yummy.

Well, it's Thursday.  For me that's the busiest day of the week, especially in the winter.  As a family we have Pilates, school, Taekwondo, basketball and homework.  In between all of that dinner has to have it's rightful place.  Usually, this is when soup comes in handy. 
Soup is not only nutritious, but it's easy to put together quickly.  Here's the recipe for the soup I put together this morning in about 20 minutes.  I did a bit of preplanning like soaking the beans overnight and having homemade chicken stock thawed out beforehand.  See the bottom of this post if for tips if you haven't preplanned. 

This recipe is so much better with homemade chicken stock.  Don't know how to make chicken stock?  Don't sweat it.  Here's a video tutorial with my then three year old son.  It's really simple.  If he can do it, so can you.
Jennifer Werner's Vegetarian Flageolet Soup


  • 2 tbsp. butter (I use Organic Valley cultured butter)
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium leek
  • 3 carrots (chopped)
  • 3 ribs of celery (chopped)
  • 3 small cloves of garlic (chopped)
  • 4 crimini mushroom (chopped)
  • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme tied into a bouquet garni
  • 1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 3 tbsp. dry white wine
  • 32 oz. homemade chicken stock
  • 1 cup of water
  • 12 oz dry Flageolets (French White Beans) Mediterranean Specialties 
  • salt/pepper to taste
Melt the butter and oil together in a large Dutch oven.  Add the leek and cook on medium low until leeks are tender. Increase the heat to medium high and add carrots and celery.  Cook until the vegetables begin to caramelize (about 2-3 minutes).  Add the white wine and scrape the bottom of the pot to release the browned vegetable sugars.  Add the garlic and mushrooms and cook for 1 minute.  Pour in the chicken stock and beans.  Use the 1 cup of water to rinse out the stock containers.  Make sure the beans are covered by at least one inch of liquid.  Add the thyme, rosemary, oregano, and basil to the soup and bring the soup to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer for 2 hours.
Remove the bouquet garni and serve. 
You may decide to use a potato masher to crush some of the beans.  You may also decide to puree the soup in a blender.  I personally like the texture of the vegetables.

Serve with bruschetta made with bread from Breadfarm or Avenue Bread Company and don't forget to go to Seifert and Jones to pick up a nice red wine to turn this into a lovely meal.

Interested in a different soup option?  Don't know how to chop/wash leeks?  What is and how on earth do you make bruschetta?  Click here on one of my vintage posts to find out? 

***If you don't preplan here are some hints to get around that aspect while still not sacrificing time or
  1. Use a slow cooker.
    Still want to use those local beans from Mediterranean Specialties?   Not all beans have to be presoaked.  If you cook your soup all day on low in your slow cooker your beans will still be cooked to perfection. 
  2. Thaw frozen chicken stock in your microwave.
    Honestly, I usually forget to thaw my stock before hand. Sometimes I don't decide on making soup until I wake up in the morning.  If this is you don't worry.  Just loosen the lid on your stock container and microwave the contents on high for 5 minutes.  It won't completely thaw out the stock, but it will loosen it's grip to your container.  Matt and I often put a huge chicken stock ice cube into the pot and let it melt into the soup. 
  3. Use what you have.
    This tip works for just about anything.  Have some old stock in a box that's about to hit it's expiration date?  Use it.  Don't have a leek but you have an onion?  Use it.  Your fresh rosemary died at the first sign of frost, but you have dried rosemary?  Use it (cut the amount used by a third).  Don't stress out.  You might actually create something new and amazing.
  4. No stock (homemade or boxed) on hand?  Use water.
    Sometimes you just run out.  I go through a lot of stock in my house and it's usually available, but sometimes I just forget.  Water can be used in place of stock very easily.  Just remember to add extra seasoning to compensate.  Salt and pepper have been around for centuries for a reason.  Use them and taste your soup to be sure it's just the way you like it.
  5. Gah!  I don't have any white wine.  or  I don't want to open an entire bottle of white wine just to deglaze the pan for soup.  or I don't want to use wine at all in my soup.
    Wine is a flavor enhancer and it's also prevents your veggies from sticking to the pan.  If you don't want to use wine just use water. 
    If you don't have or don't want to open a bottle of white wine here is a good trick that was laboriously tested by Julia Child herself.  Use DRY VERMOUTH!  Vermouth is a fortified wine and can be used in a 1:1 ratio as a replacement for white wine in cooking.  Remember Julia was advocating for flavor when most Americans didn't have wine in their homes.   However almost every American had Vermouth in the 1950's. 
Here are some lovely pictures I took for those of us who need visual inspiration.  Have fun!
I really love these beans and the company puts out many unique varietals.  You can sometimes find them at Haggen, but they are usually cheaper at Mediterranean Specialties.

Use what you've got!  My thyme is still going strong but  my rosemary kicked the bucket a few months ago. 

I didn't want to open an entire bottle of wine.  Vermouth it is!

Veggies are cookin'!

Here's the bouquet garni and I love how the mushrooms float to the top.

Savor and enjoy. 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Uncured Ham and Sauteed ("Browned") Cabbage

Now you see why they call it browned cabbage.  The honey and the butter caramelize and make some tantalizing goodness.

About eight years ago I was 32 years old with a one and a half year old baby boy.  My husband and I had just moved back to Bellingham two years earlier and well with our young babe we spent a lot of nights in.  It was then that we started watching this cooking show on PBS called New Scandinavian Cooking.  Over the years the show has changed hosts but the shows concept has remained the same.  Professional chefs that cook outside using local ingredients from various Scandinavian locations.  For the shows purposes this means Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland.  Here's a link to the website for the show that exists today.  After watching several shows Matt and I noticed that the ingredients used in these Nordic environments are incredibly similar to ours here in Bellingham. Aside from the alcoholic beverage, aquavit, most of them are also available from local vendors and distributors.
I printed out a recipe for Sautéed Cabbage (aka browned cabbage) by Tina Nordstrom from the show eons ago, and we still use it today.  This side dish is really sweet and is almost like a dessert.  It also goes especially nicely with a salty ham.  It's a really nice salty/sweet pairing.  I bought a Beeler's Ham from the Community Food Co-Op last week and we are having it tonight with the cabbage. 

I searched and searched for the link to Tina's cabbage recipe and had no luck finding it so I decided to write up a post and share it with you. 

Sautéed/Browned Cabbage
by Tina Nordstrom
Episode:  Christmas Buffet

  • 1 head green cabbage
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks (Go to Mediterranean Specialties for the best ones)
  • 1/4 cup honey (I still have some local stuff leftover from Joe's Gardens)
  • butter for frying
  • salt and pepper
Slice the cabbage thinly and sauté over medium heat together with the onion for a couple of minutes.  Mix in the apple juice, balsamic vinegar, cinnamon sticks, and honey.  Cover and let simmer until the cabbage softens.  This will take about 15 minutes.

Remove the lid and season with salt and pepper.

Don't forget to go to Seifert and Jones and have them help you find a good wine to pair with this.  They will never fail you.

Some of the essential pantry ingredients.  By the way, the cultured butter is critical for the lactose intolerant. 

The cabbage here is almost done.  It needs about 5 more minutes of cooking time to brown up.