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.


Clementine, Fennel & Potatoes

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Photo Credit: Cocoa Bean, the Vegetable, 2017.

 Inspired by one of a recipe from the Jerusalem Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, the dish comes together in just a few minutes and is loaded with healthy seasonal ingredients. The mix of flavors in this dish is absolutely wonderful. The Potatoes, citrus fruit, fennel, thyme, mustard and a generous dose of ouzo (an anise-flavored aperitif) makes a perfect accompaniment to chicken, fish or even chickpeas. An added bonus is that  the potatoes, clementines and fennel all deliver a nice boost in fiber, potassium and iron, not to mention vitamin C, that is much needed during the winter months.

Recipe Adapted From
Cocoa Bean, The Vegetable
April 20, 2017

Serves 4

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons ouzo
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon grainy brown mustard
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
2 tablespoons fennel seeds
3-5 sprigs of fresh thyme
1  1/2 pounds baby Yukon Gold potatoes
1 fennel bulb
2 clementines, whole and washed
Kosher salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 ° F.

In a small non-reactive bowl, mix together the ouzo, oil, juices, mustard, sugar and fennel seeds to make the marinade. Set aside.

Using a chef’s knife, cut the fennel bulb in half, and then cut each half in four quarters.

Slice the clementines thinly and crosswise, keeping the skin on.

In a 9 x 11-inch baking dish, combine the potatoes, fennel wedges and clementine slices. Pour over the marinade, stirring gently to ensure everything is coated. Toss in the sprigs of thyme, and season with salt and pepper.

Place the baking dish and bake in the oven for 30 to 45 minutes or until cooked through and vegetables are golden. Add a bit of extra color by putting on the broiler for the last three minutes being careful not to burn the vegetables.

Remove from the oven and transfer the vegetables to a serving platter. Garnish with extra thyme leaves if desired.

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