Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Soup and Beans

I love soups in the winter. Truthfully, I love soups all the time, but especially in the coldest months of the year. And it has been COLD here lately - as in single-digit cold. So I've been on a soup kick these past few weeks, in some kind of effort to stay warm. This soup is mostly veggies, but thanks to the addition of a little bread and milk, it is quite hearty.
Creamy Veggie Bisque
For broth, I used 1 tsp of this home-made bouillon per cup of water - it works great here and in the bean recipe below. 

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
5 carrots, diced
5 ribs of celery, diced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 cups vegetable broth
2 14.5 oz cans tomatoes (diced, whole, or whatever you have)
2 tsp dried Italian herb seasoning, or 1 tsp each dried basil and oregano
fresh ground pepper, to taste
1/2-1 tsp salt, to taste
3/4 cup bread crumbs
1 cup milk (almond milk or cow's milk)

1. Heat the oil in a pot over medium heat, and add the onions. Sautee for about 3 minutes, until the onions are soft.
2. Add celery and carrots, and saute 5 to 10 minutes more, until the veggies begin to brown the bottom of the pot. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more.
3. Add broth, tomatoes, herbs, salt and pepper, and stir well (scraping the bottom of the pot).
4. Cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
5. Puree the soup. Use an imersion blender if you have one, or let the soup cool slightly and blend in batches.
6. Stir in the bread crumbs and milk. Bring back to a simmer, and simmer for a few minutes while the bread crumbs thicken the soup.

We enjoyed this soup with grilled cheese sandwiches (naturally). For a side dish, I tossed this kidney bean recipe in the slow cooker.

Slow Cooker Kidney Beans
Did you know the slow cooker was initially invented to be a bean pot? It works super-well for cooking beans - you don't have to worry about boiling over, and I find the beans come out much more evenly cooked than on the stove top.

1 cup kidney beans, soaked over night, drained, and rinsed
3-4 cups water
3-4 cups veggie broth
1 bay leaf
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed (but still whole)
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 tsp dried italian herbs
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp coriander

1. Spray a 3.5 quart crock pot with non-stick cooking spray. Add all ingredients, using enough liquid to cover the beans by 2-3 inches.
2. Cook for 3 hours on high.
3. Drain beans, and discard bay leaf and garlic cloves.

I suggest re-heating these in a non-stick skillet sprayed with a little olive oil - let the beans and onion brown a bit.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...which has me in the baking mood! Recipe for iced cutouts is coming later this week. 

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