Sunday, February 13, 2011

Day 33: Cranberry Bean Minestrone with Sage and Marjoram

I was going to make the minestrone and a warm cabbage salad, but after re-reading the recipe for the soup I had to make a change to the menu.  When I think of minestrone I think of a nice chunky soup full of vegetables, pasta, and greens like spinach or kale (maybe some sausage).  This recipe was a little different, so I decided to hold an experiment.  I would make the soup as directed, but offer on the side some Ditalini pasta, a sprinkling of Parmesan, and spinach sauteed with garlic and sausage.  I used 1/2 cup uncooked pasta, about a pound of spinach, and the leftover kielbasa from Wednesday's dinner.  I figured whatever wasn't used in the soup could be eaten as a side dish.

First off I have to say whoever wrote the recipe for the soup needs to take another look at the cooking direction for the beans.  I followed the recipe exactly, and at the end of the cooking time they weren't done.  I ended up covering the pot, turning the heat up, and cooking for another 15 minutes, and the beans were still firm (but edible).   I substituted pinto beans for the cranberry beans, 1/2 tsp dried thyme for the marjoram, and a can of diced tomatoes for the whole pear tomatoes.

After trying the original and revised versions of the soup it was unanimous -- we all preferred the revised soup.

Cranberry Bean Minestrone with Sage and Marjoam
The Complete Vegan Cookbook
Yield:  4 main dish servings

1 cup dried cranberry beans
4 cups vegetable stock
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
One 14 1/2 ounces whole pear tomatoes
2 tbsp minced fresh sage
1 tbsp minced fresh marjoram leaves
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt

     Sort the beans, discarding any pebbles or other foreign objects you may find.  Rinse the beans and place them in a large pan.  Cover the beans with plenty of water, cover the pan, and soak for several hours or overnight.  Drain in a colander and set aside.
     Place the stock over medium high heat in a large stockpot and add the beans.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer with the lid ajar for about 45 minutes, until the beans are almost tender.
     Meanwhile, place the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the onions, celery, and garlic, and saute for about 5 minutes, until the onion is translucent.  Chop the tomatoes in a bowl or use your hands to break them up, then add them with their juice to the cooked beans.  Stir in the onion mixture, sage, marjoram, nutmeg, salt, and pepper.  Cook over medium low heat, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Serve immediately.
A few grinds of pepper.

Tomorrow night is Valentines Day so I'm taking a day off from the 50 day challenge.  Kevin and I are making dinner for Paul and Celeste.  Don't worry -- I'll post some pictures.

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