Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Day 43: White Bean and Fresh Tomato Soup with Parsley Sauce, and Fast and Flexible Whole Grain Rolls

White Bean and Tomato Soup -- yes, you've seen it before.  I made it on Day 27 (you can read about it here) and if you remember I didn't care for it.  How did I like The Greens Cook Book version?  Well, it wasn't as bad as the recipe in Healthy Cooking for Two, but I still didn't like the soup.  I guess it's the soup I don't like and not the recipe!

I used the broth from cooking the beans but perhaps I should have used vegetable stock.  Once again I found the soup to be really watery (although not as bad as this one), and I wasn't a fan of the parsley sauce -- the fresh garlic in the sauce was really strong and overpowered the soup.  The cheese is what really saved the day.  I mean how can you go wrong when adding Parmesan cheese to any dish?

So would I make this soup again?  I might -- but I'd make changes like use less stock, add more beans, and saute all the garlic with the onions, forget about the sauce, and add a sprinkling of parsley and cheese before serving.

I'm not sure about the rolls either.  They were very dense, mushy more than moist, and had a strong olive oil taste, but for some reason I kind of liked them.  Maybe it's the honey.  Would I make the rolls again?  No, probably not.

And now what you really want to know:  What did Paul think of tonight's meal?  Well, he thought the soup by itself didn't have a lot of taste to it, but when you added the parsley sauce it was really good.  And he liked the rolls.  He thought they were kind of sweet, and had a cakeyness (is there such a word?) to it that he enjoyed.  He said he'd like to have both the soup and rolls again.

White Bean and Fresh Tomato Soup with Parsley Sauce
The Greens Cook Book
Yield:  Serves 4 to 6

The Stock
Use the broth from the beans alone or in combination with the Summer Vegetable Stock

The Soup
3/4 cup dry navy beans
10 cups water
10 fresh sage leaves or 1 tsp dried sage
4 cloves garlic
3 bay leaves
6 thyme branches or 1/4 tsp dried thyme
3 tbsp virgin olive oil
1 medium red or yellow onion, finely chopped
1 pound ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
Parsley Sauce (see below)

     Sort through the beans and remove any small stones and chaff.  Rinse them well, cover them generously with water, and set them aside to soak overnight.
     Next day, pour off the soaking water and cover the beans with 10 cups fresh water.  Add half the sage, 3 of the garlic cloves (peeled and left whole), 2 of the bay leaves, the thyme, and 1 tbsp of the olive oil.  Bring to a boil, add 1 tsp salt, lower the heat, and cook the beans at a simmer or slow boil until they are tender but not mushy, about 1 hour.  Remove them from the heat and strain, reserving the broth.
     Slowly warm the rest of the oil in a soup pot with the remaining sage, garlic (roughly chopped), and bay leaf for 1 or 2 minutes; then add the onion and cook until it is soft, about 8 to 10 minutes.  Stir in the tomatoes; then add 6 yo 7 cups of the bean broth and 1/2 tsp salt.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes.  Add the beans and cook another 10  minutes.
     Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  The soup may be served immediately or set aside for later.  Just before serving, prepare the sauce.  Reheat the soup and garnish each bowl with a generous spoonful of sauce.

Parsley Sauce:

1 cup Italian parsley leaves, loosely packed
2 cloves garlic
1/4 tsp salt, preferably coarse sea salt
3 tbsp virgin olive oil
3 tbsp Parmesan, grated
Red wine vinegar to taste

     Chop the parsley fairly fine.  Pound the garlic with the slat in a mortar until it is broken into a smooth paste.  Add a tbsp or so of the parsley and work it vigorously into the garlic; then stir in the olive oil, cheese, and remaining parsley.  Add the vinegar to taste, and season with salt if necessary.

Fast and Flexible Whole Grain Rolls
The New Whole Grains Cookbook
Yield:  12 to 14 rolls

2 cups water, divided, for Bulgar (or 1 1/2 cups water for cooked grain)
1/2 cup Bulgar (or 1 cup cooked grain)
1/4 cup honey (not raw honey; it may kill the yeast)
1/2 cup olive oil or nut oil
1/2 tsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp quick rise yeast
5 cups whole wheat bread flour, divided
2 tsp salt

Bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil in a small saucepan.  Add the Bulgar and return to a full, rolling boil.  Cover, lower the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes, then let stand for 5 minutes.  Add 1/2 cup cool water to bring the temperature down.  (If using cooked grain, bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil, add the cooked grain, and remove from the heat.)
     Stir the honey, oil, and vinegar into the hot grain mixture.  Take the temperature of the mixture, and follow the yeast package recommendations, letting it cool if necessary.  In a stand mixer or large bowl, mix 4 cups of the flour with the yeast and salt.  Using the dough hook, stir in the grain mixture.  Knead to mix.  When the flour is mixed in, knead in the remaining cup to make a soft dough.  the dough will seem sticky in the bowl, but you should be able to handle it without it sticking to your hands.  Oil a large mixing bowl and scrape the dough into the bowl.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for at least 45 minutes, and up to 3 hours.
     Oil a heavy sheet pan.  Preheat the oven to 375.  The dough should be bigger than it was.  Tear off small handfuls of dough, about three-fourths of the size you would like the rolls to be.  Roll each piece into a ball, and place on the oiled pan.  Lightly cover with a sheet of plastic wrap.  Let rise in a warm spot for at least 30 minutes.
     Bake for 15 minutes.  Slide the rolls off the pan onto a rack to cool.

     Variations:  Add herbs, nuts, or cheese to the dough.  You can make it sweeter by doubling the honey, and use it for cinnamon rolls.
     After the first rising, pat the dough out to a large rectangle and cover with a filling (see list below), then roll up into a cylinder.  Slice the roll in 1 inch thick rounds, and place on the pan.  bake as directed in the main recipe.
     Suggested Fillings:  Cinnamon-sugar and raisins, shredded cheese and nuts or sauteed onions, pesto and grated Parmesan, spinach and feta, garlic and sun-dried tomatoes.

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