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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Parsnip and Leek Soup

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Photo Credit:Jonny Valiant, 2011.

 

 

For those celebrating the religious calendar, Lent is upon us, and for many it is the time to give up meat in our diets. For busy home cooks, this soup can be made in ahead of time, basically because it is an uncomplicated vegetable puree. For an added touch you can dressed-up this soup with a touch of American whitefish caviar, the salty counterpoint to sweet parsnips in the mix, makes the soup plenty festive for Easter Dinner.

 

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients:
For the Soup:
1 pound parsnips, peeled and cut 1/4 inch thick
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut 1/4 inch thick
3 cups chicken stock
2 1/2 cups water
2 dried bay leaves
1/2 cup whole milk

For the Black-Pepper Cream:
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
2 ounces whitefish or other caviar, for garnish

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Directions:
To prepare the leeks, rinsed well to remove the sand and grit. Cut the white and pale-green parts only into 1/4-inch-thick semi-circles and set aside.

To Make the soup: Cut a round of parchment to fit inside a large pot. Melt butter in pot over medium heat. Add leeks and a pinch of salt, and cover with parchment round (this will help keep moisture in). Cook, lifting parchment to stir occasionally, until leeks are tender, 10 to 15 minutes.

Stir in parsnips, potatoes, chicken stock, 2 1/2 cups water, bay leaves, and 1 teaspoon salt. Raise heat to high, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer gently, partially covered with lid, until parsnips are soft, about 20 minutes. Discard bay leaves. Let cool slightly, about 10 minutes.

Working in batches, puree vegetable mixture in a blender, being sure to hold lid down. Return soup to pot, and stir in milk. Reheat soup over medium heat (do not boil).

To Make the black-pepper cream: Stir 1/4 teaspoon pepper into creme fraiche.

To Serve: Ladle soup into 8 small bowls, and top each with a dollop of black-pepper cream and 1/2 teaspoon caviar.

Cook’s Notes:
Whitefish caviar is a relatively inexpensive variety and can found at Whole Foods  Markets or specialty gourmet food markets.

The soup can be refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 3 months. Stir in milk and rewarm over medium heat just before serving. Black-pepper cream can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.


Asparagi e Porri al Limone

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Photo Credit: Lidia’s Italian Kitchen, 2017

Asparagi e Porri al Limone
(ASPARAGUS AND LEEKS IN LEMON VINAIGRETTE)

From
Lidia’s Celebrate Like an Italian
by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and Tanya Bastianich Manuali
2017

I am really trying to eat light this Spring and given that I love asparagus, I found this delightful salad while perusing Lidia Bastianich’s most recent cookbook, “Lidia’s Celebrate Like an Italian” .

Lidia’s Celebrate Like an Italian

The best thing about this salad is that you can serve it while the vegetables are still warm, or you can serve it chilled, especially if you are hosting a buffet or a picnic. The important thing is to dress it just before serving, since the lemon juice will change the color of the vegetables.

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
1 teaspoon kosher salt, to taste
2 pounds medium thick asparagus spears, trimmed and peeled
1 bunch medium leeks, white and light green parts, washed and halved lengthwise
Juice of 1 large lemon
¼  Cup extra-virign olive oil
4  Hard boiled eggs, peeled and quartered

Directions:
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cut the peeled asparagus into thirds, crosswise. Cut the leeks in thirds crosswise as well. Add the asparagus and leeks to the boiling water, and cook until tender, about 5 to 7 minutes, depending on their thickness. Drain, and plunge into an ice bath to stop the cooking and set the color. Drain and pat very dry.

Put the asparagus and leeks in a serving bowl. Drizzle with the lemon juice and olive oil, and season with the salt. Toss well. Mound the asparagus and leeks on a serving platter, and scatter the hard-boiled eggs over the top and serve.

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All photographs and content, excepted where noted, are copyright protected. Please do not use these photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this photograph and all other contents, then we kindly ask that you link back to this site. We are eternally grateful and we appreciate your support of this blog.

Thank you so much!

Protected by Copyscape