A Minestra: A Corsican Bean Soup

Corsican Bean Soup Recipe
Photo Credit: Greg DuPree,Food & Wine Magazine, 2019.

There is a Corsican saying, “Eat your soup—or jump out the window,” which sounds better in Corsican, “O mangia a minestra, o salta a fenestra,” as it has the advantage of rhyming. What it actually means is “Put up with it or shut up.”

It also illustrates the importance of soup in the daily diet of Corsicans up until the middle of last century. Each region and each season had its own soup made of pulses or fresh vegetables, meat or fish, often thickened with bread, rice or pasta. Served before cheese and fruit, it often constituted the evening meal.

This traditional soup is the quintessential, true Corsican meal and is called  “A Minestra,” or in French Soupe Corse or Soupe Paysanne. There are as many different variations as there are Corsican villages. It is a simple rustic dish and  is rarely served in restaurants, but it is what you will  eat when you’re invited to a Corsican’s home to share a simple meal. Most Corsicans in the  villages eat Minestra nearly daily for dinner. What goes into the soup is seasonal and varies depending on what grows locally and the home cook has on hand, but it  almost always includes dried beans, onions and carrots. A ham bone or the trimmings of a smoked ham  are added to give  flavour. Ask your local butcher or at the delicatessen counter for end pieces of ham or bacon. Herbs are also important in making this soup. You can choose from marjoram, sage, sorrel and parsley , but it is recommended not use all the herbs listed here.

This version is full of hearty winter vegetables and pork, making this  comforting soup so filling without being heavy on the stomach.When prepared as a lunch rather than a dinner, it’s made the night before and served cold the next day. Dried beans are the key to the satisfying richness of the broth; if you want to use canned red or white beans to save time, drain and rinse them and then stir them in at the end of cooking.

 

 

Serves 8

Ingredients:

8 ounces dried cannellini beans
2 tablespoons olive
1 small green cabbage, chopped
4 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
4 cups stemmed and chopped Swiss chard
2 medium leeks, white parts only, chopped
2 large carrots, cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
3 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
7 cups water
7 cups chicken broth
1 bouquet garni
One 15-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, drained and finely chopped
1 ham bone
8 ounces pork cheek or boneless pork shoulder

Directions:

If you are using dry beans, place them in a bowl; add cold water to cover. Cover bowl; let soak  overnight.

The following day, heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high; add cabbage, potatoes, chard, leeks, carrots, garlic, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until vegetables are wilted, about 10 minutes. Add the water and chicken broth to cover vegetable mixture. Reduce heat to low, and simmer gently while preparing beans.

Meanwhile, drain beans. Transfer beans to a large pot; add water to cover by 2 inches. Add bouquet garni; bring to a boil over high. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 15 minutes. Drain.

Add drained beans and bouquet garni to vegetable mixture in Dutch oven. Add tomatoes, ham bone, and pork cheek. Bring to a boil over high. Reduce heat to low; simmer, stirring occasionally, until beans and vegetables are very tender, about 1 hour and 30 minutes. Remove and discard bouquet garni and ham bone. Ladle soup into bowls and serve with a crusty rustic bread.

Cook’s Notes:

To make a bouquet garni, take 1 bay leaf, 2 thyme sprigs, and 3 flat-leaf parsley sprigs, tied and tie the together with kitchen twine.

This soup may be prepared up to 3 days ahead.

Source:

Clark Z. Terry. (2012).”Minestra – Traditional Corsican Soup”. Inspiring Thirst. Accessed September 24, 2019.
https://www.kermitlynch.com/blog/2012/02/09/minestra-traditional-corsican-soup/

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Kentucky Burgoo

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Photo Credit: Elise Bauer

 

Burgoo,  is  Kentucky’s most famous stew and it usually made for big gatherings such as Derby Day, church socials, barbecues and  family picnics in huge kettles. A hearty meat stew, burgoo is most often made with chicken, beef, and lamb simmered with vegetables, beans, tomatoes, Worcestershire, sorghum or molasses, ketchup, vinegar, and spices.

Burgoo predates the Civil War and as legend has it, was invented by a French chef.And in taking it’s culinary origins in that fact, the word burgoo  may have derived from the French ragout (pronounced ra-goo), also a term describing a stew.

Nineteenth-century versions of burgoo served around the South frequently included squirrel, opossum, and rabbit, and was gently simmered and stirred for up to 24 hours. Like a mulligan stew, it’s sort of a empty-the-fridge recipe. Burgoos typically have at least three different meats, and plenty of vegetables such as corn, okra, and lima beans.

While modern day cooks applaud the stamina of those early chefs, these days a good burgoo can be made in four to six hours. That is still a commitment, to be sure, but the results—spicy, stick-to-your-ribs comfort food—are worth it. Like gumbo found in Gulf Coast, burgoo has many variations. In keeping with the food theme of using Kentucky bourbon,  this  version uses bourbon in the stock, which we are certainly partial to.

As with most stews, burgoo is even better the second day. It’s excellent as a Sunday dinner when you want lunches for the coming week.

Serves 12 to 14

Ingredients:

2 pounds pork shank
2 pounds veal shank
2 pounds beef shank
2 pounds breast of lamb
One 4-pound chicken, cut into eight pieces
7 quarts cold water
1 quart chicken stock
1 1/2 pounds potatoes, peeled and diced
1 1/2 pounds onions, diced
1 bunch carrots, peeled and sliced thickly
2 green peppers, seeded and chopped
One 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
2  tablespoons  tomato paste
2  tablespoons brown sugar
2 cups whole corn, fresh or canned
2 pods red pepper
2 cups  okra, sliced
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cups dry lima beans
1 cup diced celery
3/4 cup Kentucky bourbon
Salt and pepper, to taste
Tabasco, to tatste
Worcestershire sauce, to taste

Directions:
Put the pork, veal, beef, lamb, and chicken into a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the water and chicken stock and bring it to a boil slowly. Simmer until meat is tender enough to fall off the bones, about 4 to 6 hours.

Lift the meat out of the stock. Cool the meat, remove it from the bones, and chop it. Return the chopped meat to the stock.

Add the potatoes, onions, carrots, green peppers, tomato tomato paste brown sugar, corn, red pepper, okra, parsley, thyme, lima beans, celery, and bourbon, to the meat and stock.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Allow the stew to simmer over low heat until very thick about 6 hours.

Season to taste with the salt, pepper and serve with a good crusty bread.


Oxtail Bourguinonne

 

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Bourguignonne refers to any dish cooked in the style of Burgundy, France. This dish is similar to classic boeuf bourguignonne (French beef stew), which is beef braised with red wine and mushrooms. Although oxtail was once the tail of an ox, these days the bony cut can be beef or veal origin. Also note that mashed potatoes would make the perfect side dish. And if you desire a gluten free side dish, mashed cauliflower works just as well.

Serves 6

Ingredients:
8 slices fatty bacon, chopped
Olive oil
3 large fresh Italian parsley sprigs
3 large fresh thyme sprigs
2 large fresh bay leaves, bruised
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 to 4 1/4 pounds meaty oxtail pieces, trimmed of excess fat
2 cups chopped onions
1 cup diced carrot plus 6 medium carrots, cut into 2-inch chunks
4 large garlic cloves, peeled; 1 minced, 3 left whole
1 3/4 cups beef broth
1 1/2 cups red Burgundy wine (such as Beaujolais)
1 pound crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
12 small shallots, blanched 1 minute, peeled

Directions:
Cook bacon in heavy large pot over medium-high heat until brown and crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to plate. Pour drippings into small bowl. Return 6 tablespoons drippings to pot (add olive oil, if necessary, to measure 6 tablespoons total; reserve bacon for another use). Tie parsley, thyme, and bay leaves together for bouquet garni. Stir 1 tablespoon flour and butter in small bowl to smooth paste.

Whisk 1 1/2 cups flour, 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, and nutmeg in medium bowl. Add oxtails, a few pieces at a time, to seasoned flour and toss to coat.

Heat bacon drippings in pot over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add oxtails and brown on all sides, about 6 minutes per batch. Transfer oxtails to bowl after each batch.
Reduce heat to medium-low. Add chopped onions, diced carrot, and minced garlic to pot. Sauté until onions soften, 5 to 6 minutes. Return oxtails and any accumulated juices to pot. Add bouquet garni, then broth and wine. Bring to boil. Cover and simmer until meat is almost tender, adjusting heat occasionally to maintain gentle simmer, about 3 hours. Mix in mushrooms, shallots, carrot chunks, and whole garlic cloves. Increase heat and return to boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover pot and simmer gently until meat and vegetables are tender, about 45 minutes longer.

Tilt pot and spoon off any fat that rises to surface. Stir flour paste into stew. Simmer uncovered until sauce thickens slightly, stirring occasionally, 6 to 8 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cook’s Notes:
This dish can be made 1 day ahead. Allow it to cool  for 1 hour, then refrigerate uncovered until cold, then cover and keep refrigerated. To serve, rewarm over low heat before ladling into serving bowls.