Rob and I went to ¡Salud!,a charity wine auction,in Portland on Saturday night. It’s one of our favorites, mostly because we believe so strongly in the cause but also because, coming so closely on the heels of harvest as it does every year, it’s also nice to have a reason to get dressed up and go out after a month of keeping our noses to the grindstone.
This year, as we often do, we took our kids with us to the city. We tucked them safely into a hotel with room service and a stack of movies (they were in heaven) and we got dressed in all finery and went out to the event.
The next day our family spent the day kicking around Portland. That’s something we love to do and somehow don’t get to often enough. We started by sleeping in (that’s our favorite way to start any Sunday) and then headed out to find some food. Portland is a great brunch town and we have a few favorites. Some voted for sticking with the tried and true, but the majority overruled by voting to check out something new. The first place we went had a 2 hour wait. I’m sure it’s delicious, but we were too hungry for that, walking over to our next choice, we passed a joint Rob and I know and love called EAT Oyster Bar. We probably wouldn’t have thought of it for brunch, except that there was a fantastic New Orleans style jazz band playing and we were immediately lured in. The kids grumbled about the menu, but they did ultimately enjoy the music.
Next we headed to OMSI. I wanted to see the show of National Geographic photos (fabulous, by the way) and the kids were intrigued by the “Grossology” exhibit. By the time we got through at the museum, some of us were starting to feel a bit droopy, but others were committed to making a stop at Powell’s before we headed home. I’m not going to lie, I am shamelessly proud of the fact that my kids love Powell’s as much as I do. The boys wandered off and I told them when they were ready, they’d find me in the cookbook section (no surprise there).
After browsing the stacks for 30 minutes or so the kids showed up with their chosen treasures and I needed to make a decisions. I chose to limit myself to one memoir and one cookbook – and the latter was even on sale!
The cookbook that made its way home with me was How to Roast a Lamb, New Greek Classic Cooking by Michael Psilakis. It turned out I got to spend some time with it right away since when we got back to the car we had a dead battery. While waiting for the AAA guy I started in on the book. Beautiful photographs (though I would like more of those), good storytelling and inspiring recipes. A good choice, I decided.
And the next night we had this delicious White Bean Soup for dinner. The recipe calls for 3 tablespoons garlic purée, which is whole garlic cloves slowly poached in olive oil, then pureed. The recipe for the Garlic Confit is included in the book as well. I will be making that soon. I can promise you. As soon as I have time to peel all those cloves of garlic. But in the meantime I roasted three smallish heads of garlic and included the pulp from those instead.
The lemon, feta and olive oil on the finish of this soup really make it zing. And even though I was quite enamored with the lovely white palate the soup’s ingredients presented, I found that it Pinot Noir was the wine I preferred with it.
White Bean Soup
By November 15, 2012Published:
- Yield: 6-8 Servings
Very slightly adapted from How to Roast a Lamb by Micahel Psilakis. Note that the cooking time could vary widely, depending on the age of the beans.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 parsnip scrubbed and roughly chopped
- 2 stalks celery roughly chopped
- 1/2 bulb fennel cored and roughly chopped
- 1 spanish onion roughly chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 piece komba (optional)
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 pound dry cannellini beans soaked overnight and drained
- 1 leek white part only, halved lengthwise and then sliced crosswise
- 2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock approximately
- kosher salt to taste
- black pepper to taste
- 3 tablespoons fresh dill chopped
- 1/2 cup feta crumbled
- extra virgin olive oil
- 3 heads garlic
- First, roast the garlic. Remove the excess paper from the outside of the garlic heads. Slice or the top 1/4 of each head. Cut piece of foil large enough to securely wrap all three heads. Place the garlic on the foil, drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper. Wrap the foil into a tight packet around the heads. Roast in a 325 degree oven for about an hour. Remove from the oven and unwrap. The garlic cloves should be very soft and fragrant. Squeeze the pulp out of the papery husks.
- Prepare all of the vegetables. (Notice their beautiful harmony of color!).
- In a large pot, warm the blended oil over medium-high heat. Add all the vegetables except the leek and the bay leaves and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, to soften without browning. Add the wine and simmer until it is completely evaporated.
- Add the beans, the komba and the leek, plus enough stock to cover by a good 1 1/2 inches. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and partially cover the pot. Simmer for 45 minutes to 2 hours, until the beans are very soft but not falling apart. Add stock if the level drops more than half an inch.
- Strain the solids, reserving all the liquid in a large measuring cup. Return the beans and vegetables to the empty cooking pot. discard the bay leaves. In a food processor, combine about a third of the bean mixture with 2 cups of the cooking liquid and puree until completely smooth. Return this pureed mixture to the pot with the remaining solids.
- Add enough of the reserved cooking liquid to get to the desired consistency. I added another half cup of the cooking liquid and it was just about right for us. Stir in the lemon juice, garlic pulp and chopped dill. Season liberally with salt and pepper.
- Ladle into bowls and top with some crumbled feta and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.