Two Winter Minestrones

I heartily recommend the article on Serious Eats about minestrone.  However, that is most decidedly a summer dish and we are in the middle of a cold winter.  As such I have made two variations using winter produce that turned out great and I document for posterity.

As for cooking method.  I cook long. I like mushy vegetables and as such I see no reason to cook beans in a separate pot.  Just chuck everything together.  Also I use chicken stock rather than water and added some smoked pork.

4 cloves of garlic
2 onions or replace one with a leek
2 Thai bird Chiles
1 Tbsp Red Pepper Flakes
4 celery stalks
1/2 lb of carrots
1 rutabaga
1 head of savoy cabbage
1 28 oz can of whole peeled tomatoes

4 cloves of garlic
2 onions or replace one with a leek or fennel
2 Thai bird Chiles
1 Tbsp Red Pepper Flakes
4 celery stalks
1.5 lb of carrots and parsnips
2 sweet potatoes
Small bunch of kale
1 14 oz can of whole peeled tomatoes



White Bean Gumbo?

Lately I have tried to make my lunch for the week on the weekends for a number of reasons.  One it is typically healthier.  Two, it’s way cheaper.  And three, I really don’t like most of the options for lunch where I work.  Also it gives me an opportunity to cook more which I do enjoy.

Anyways I need something that makes a lot of food and is a complete meal with adequate protein and vegetables.  This leads to stews and stews with legumes because they kind of straddle the line as a good protein source and psuedo-vegetable.  Below I adapt gumbo by replacing some of the meat with white beans.  I also use a dry roux to avoid the excessive amount of oil in a typical gumbo.  With the bean starch, roux and okra this “gumbo” will thicken up nicely.  I like it spicy so adjust accordingly.

1 c flour

2 onions
3 celery stalks
2 poblano or green peppers
spicy chilies to taste
4 garlic cloves
1 tbsp of thyme

1 tbsp of black/white pepper
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 fruity dried chile (e.g. ancho) toasted and ground
1/2 tbsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp celery salt
2 bay leaves

2 lbs chicken thighs
1/2 lb dried white beans of choice
8 oz smoked pork (andouille, smoked pork pieces, even bacon) in bite size pieces
1 lb fresh or frozen okra cut to preference

Soak beans overnight in salty water with 1/4 tsp of baking soda.  Drain and rinse.

Toast flour, stirring occasionally, in 425 oven for 40 to 55 minutes until color of  ground cinnamon.  Set aside and then lower oven to 300.

Brown chicken thighs in pot and remove.  Dice first block of produce and saute until softened.  Add spice block and stir constantly for about 30 seconds.  Add 2 quarts of chicken stock and scrape bottom of pot.  Add beans and bring to simmer.  Transfer pot to oven or simmer on stove, partially covered for 45 minutes.  Whisk a bit of broth little by little with darkened roux until homogeneous paste forms.  Add flour paste, meat and okra to pot, return to simmer on stovetop adding additional stock if needed to submerge.  Partially cover and return to oven for an additional 45 minutes.  Remove pot from oven and remove chicken thighs.  Season gumbo with salt/umami boosters and hot sauce/vinegar.  After chicken cools shred and return to pot and serve.