Saturday, September 20, 2008

Fall Soup

We love the fall around here and this is our favorite fall soup, which, as Will says "only seems fancy" seeing as how it's made from basically canned ingredients and is cheap, cheap, cheap to eat and would be even cheaper if I bothered to get dried beans and soak them instead of using cans. I feel sure that this was originally an America's Test Kitchen recipe. It goes like this:

Get a heavy pan out and put it on low heat to heat up. Cut up about 4 slices of bacon into smallish dice. Panchetta is good, if you have it, but regular bacon works fine (not apple wood or maple flavored or any of that, just regular bacon). Okay, that's the most complicated part, getting the right bacon. When it's brown and crisp add 1/2 to 1 onion and 2-4 ribs of celery, diced. Saute those until they're basically cooked. Add 3-4 cloves of garlic, diced, and, if you want, 1 or two anchovies. Stir all this around for a minute or so until the anchovies are broken apart. Add about 1 tsp oregano and some red chili flakes and some salt. Stir around some more. This is all over pretty high heat still.

Now comes the cans of stuff. Add one can of diced tomatoes and their juice. Stir around. Add a 3-4 inch or so Parmesan cheese rind. This is exactly what it sounds like: it's what is left after you've eaten all the cheese. I typically have a number of these in the freezer. If you don't have one, don't worry, leave it out. Add 2 cans of cannelini beans. Bring this to a quick simmer and let it go for about 10 minutes to meld all the flavors. Then add 2 or 3 cans of chicken broth, and 2 or 3 cups of hot water. Bring to a boil and let it go for 30 minutes or so. Longer if you like, just keep an eye on it so the cheese rind doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot and burn.

About 30 minutes before you want to eat it add 1 or 1.5 cups of small pasta. We generally use orzo. Make sure there is enough liquid in the soup to cook the past and still be soup. Dice up some Italian parsley. When the past is cooked add the parsley. Garnish each serving with a little good-flavored olive oil and some Parmesan cheese, if you like. That's it. We're having some tonight.

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