1367 Bean Vegetable Soup TTT

another weather event, sorry to bore you, but I can’t get over how pretty it is

The above photo was a few days ago, a fluffy bunch of stuff in two nights: 4″ then 5″ on top of that.  As you can see, the sun is out and predicted to be so for the near future, so we decided to wait and let nature take its course. In the meantime, it seemed fitting to make a batch of my favorite soup.

pretty nice stuff, all available all winter

The name is derived from 1367 Union, where I spent days and months in that kitchen adjusting Ferry Plaza Farmers Market ingredients until this soup was just right. [Written AS MEASURED AND COOKED SEPT 2012]
Cook your beans in a clay pot or by another method, with a miripoix.
Store in the refrigerator in their liquor until you’re ready to use them.

On soup day:
Peel and cube 3 medium potatoes [300g] and reserve in cold water to cover.
Chop two slices of bacon in about 1/2 inch pieces. [I use thick pepper bacon from the meatcase at my supermarket.]
Start the bacon in a bit of olive oil in the Green Le Creuset pot until it has rendered most of its fat. [At the same time, brown two fresh Italian sausages, if you’re using them.] Add a rough chopped onion and sauté until crisp tender. Add a two-2-finger-pinch salt/pepper mix. Add garlic to taste and cook until fragrant.
Add about an inch of celery [100g] chopped from the top of your head, 3 medium carrots [100g], sliced, potatoes and their soaking potato water to your pot. Add a two-2-finger-pinch salt/pepper mix and stir.
Add broth — if needed — to barely cover. Add a bit of dried thyme and oregano.
Cook for about 10 minutes until the potatoes are tender.
Add half of a medium cabbage, chopped or sliced. Add cooked meat (ham, sausage if using) here, if you want.
Add 2 cups beans and their liquor.
Add enough stock to make it soupy.
Bring to a simmer and turn off the heat. Salt and pepper to taste.

this soup is brothy with the vegetables in chunks to allow each to show off its taste and texture… and there are no whimpy little vegetables such as corn or peas to get in the way

The deal is, when you use fresh ingredients in suitable proportion and cook with care, the result can’t be bad.


Cooked 2.16 — RG Alubia Blanca, young, tiny, tight red cabbage, two links of LO grilled Merguez sausage.
Cooked 1.16 — Iacopi Italian Butter Beans. Browned 2 links Basque Chorizo sausage with the bacon, cut in thirds, removed and then “sauteed “ the onions in that liquid. Lends a bitchin’ richness to the soup. Used home made *enhanced* turkey stock. Red cabbage. Did not use bean liquor ‘cause C is afraid of beans. Most Yummy.
Cooked 11.14 — RG Yellow Eye beans 2C+, 3C homemade beef broth, pinch of oregano, t of thyme. YUM
Cooked 6.14 — Cassolet beans RG, LO cooked beet greens: shredded [‘cause I had no cabbage], redskin potatoes, chicken broth… no meat except the bacon used to cook the LO greens and used to cook this dish. Good anyway.
Cooked 11.12 — Inspired by “Crispy Potatoes” brought home from CAMPO. Otherwise, did the regular recipe, but didn’t have any cabbage, pity. Not bad, but better with fresh potatoes and cabbage.
Cooked 10.12 — Had about 1 1/2 cups LO Italian Butter beans that weren’t cooked to creamy softness. Started with 2 slices of bacon in a bit of olive oil, cooked and removed bacon. Added 1/2 chopped onion, some garlic, 1 1/2 sliced slender carrot, sliced stalks of a fennel bulb, three whacks of celery, one potato cut into matchsticks, the beans and their juice and some chicken stock. Cooked 12 minutes. Pureed with immersion blender. Pretty good, beans still a little grainy.
Cooked 9.12 — Checked quantities and method and re-wrote recipe — see original on page 3
Cooked 7.12 — about 3 cups Bobs Bountiful Black Beans… about 1/2 pound slab bacon very thick sliced… DIS is good, still.
Cooked 4.19.12 — With shaved Fatted Calf Picnic ham + plus some of Brian’s Polish sausage… Dexter beef stock. C took 2nds
Cooked 3.28.12 —
Cooked 9.10 – Iacopi Italian Butter Beans, spring onions, with cabbage… added 1C raw CP raw tomato sauce at end… otherwise as written. Cooked in Joyce Chen Wok. Still good. C scarfed and took LO for tomorrow lunch.
Cooked 5.10 – Iacopi Italian Butter Beans, spring onions, green garlic, with cabbage… otherwise as written. Cooked in Wendell Wok. Still good.
Cooked 3.10 – regular way. Iacopi Italian Butter Beans, about 1 1/2C, 1 potato, 2 slender carrots, about 1/3 head small savoy cabbage. In calphalon Windsor pan. YUM This just got better and better as I ate it over days in two-cup portions. YUM YUM

Cooked 2.10 w LO Super Bowl vegetables: carrots, romanesco, fennel, green beans, baby zucchini, red and yellow bell pepper, Brussels sprouts, celery, Tokyo turnips. Bacon, spring onions and garlic as directed. No cabbage. Yes potatoes. About 3 cups water, 3 cups chicken stock, 1-cup turkey stock. Cooked in Joyce Chen clay pot.
Cooked 1.10 – In Wendell wok with spring onions and the other stuff, plus cabbage… eye of goat beans that had been cooked with a ham hock.

NOTE: This is very similar to simply recipes.com Minestrone except that Minestrone has zucchini, parsley and tomatoes. Other minestrone has green beans and spinach, as well. So its really not very similar at all.

Can o’ Soup (NOT)

It was a cold, gray Veterans Day in Reno — OK, mid-50’s is SF weather — but gray in Reno seems especially gray as most days are so bright and sunny-warm looking. A hot can o’ soup seemed appropriate for my lunch (C is already into her cold yogurt).

Actually, a POM jar of Rancho Gordo Yellow Eye beans has been front and center in the refrigerator for a few days, those would be good with tomatoes. I found a can of Raley’s Petite Diced tomatoes in the pantry and asked Carol if she had a use for the bulk sausage she bought the other day.

“Nothing special,” she said. So there’s that. I drained the beans and tomatoes into a small bowl to catch the juices.

Probably should chop an onion to sauté as a base course, but I hate to chop a whole onion for a little lunch, maybe a shallot. We didn’t have a shallot, but did have a cippilini onion; even better. I rough sliced that across the grain and started it going in olive oil and a bit of butter. After five or six minutes, I squeezed some fingerfuls of sausage out of the tube and into the sauté pan and stirred it around until all the pink was gone.

onion in the pan with some olive oil and a bit of butter

added sausage to the pan

Added the beans and tomatoes together and stirred around and added some pinches of salt and pepper. Needed liquid, so I added back about half of the bean/tomato juices, got it bubbling and let that go on for a few minutes.

added beans and tomatoes

looks like lunch

Tasted. Good.

I can’t seem to do a straight out of the can lunch, and a cold lunch on such a day as today just doesn’t appeal to me. For me, a lot of the joy of eating comes in finding some things to put together.

Bean Stew (YUM)

A Great Day

… and a soup day

I had a great day today.
When I got up at 6:30 to make coffee, the temperature was 46°F, but it was snowing. I went back to bed as usual, and when I got up for good at 7:30, the temperature had dropped to 24°F and it was snowing hard, but with no wind.

6:50am I took this to show Carol in case the snow went away before she got up.

It snowed on until noon, first those tiny flakes, then bigger, fluffy ones. I measured four inches.

12:30pm The snow did not go away.

I love fresh snow. It is so pretty and everything is silent and still.

Won’t be going out today except to shovel, so I got busy in the warm indoors.

Made a Christmas gift for brother Wendell. It’s pretty cool, but I won’t disclose it here. That took the morning, because it required some thought and research.

Then I turned my attention to Turkey Barley Soup. It’s so good, that it can become a turkey leftover tradition. There is something very satisfying about making a hearty soup on a cold and snowy day.

Soup is an assembly process and it is like T’ai Chi to me to move around the kitchen, collecting vegetables and chopping, assembling the ingredients, stirring the big pot.

The big pot of vegetables. I like it because it’s wide and makes for easy stirring.

Lovely garlic from the spring farmers market

I especially liked working with the garlic that I got at the Farmers Market in the spring and hung in the kitchen to dry. It’s beautiful garlic and a joy to peel and smash.

The shopping was interesting. A key ingredient of the soup is pearl barley… not something you find just anywhere. Carol happened to be in Trader Joe’s — although we don’t usually shop there except for my favorite salted peanuts — and she got barley, but it is “ten minute barley.” Not the same, we cook the barley for this soup an hour or more.

On another day, we were in Raley’s and I cruised the rice and grain aisle. Astonishingly, there were three women with carts and me with no cart in that aisle all at once. Since I needed to peruse the shelves, I stood aside and mentioned I was looking for pearl barley. “I’m looking for pearl barley, too,” said a woman about my age. She found it first and offered me a package.

“You must be making Turkey Barley Soup,” I said, since I got the recipe last Thanksgiving from the Reno Gazette Journal.

“Yes,” she said, “I am.”

The recipe with plenty of pictures is in last year’s post, Turkey Left Over, but I made some modifications and clarifications, so I will repeat it here.

Based on an amalgamation of recipes and making stock much of my cooking life.
Yield, about 8 cups.

In a large stockpot, place Turkey carcass, and cover with water. When the water is nearly boiling, remove the pot from heat and pour off the water. (This takes care of the blood and scummy stuff so you don’t have to skim much.)
Cover the turkey carcass again with cold water, about 12 cups. Heat to a near simmer and add 2 each carrots and celery stalks; 1 onion, quartered; 1/2 lemon, rinsed and quartered; some peppercorns, a bay leaf; an herb bouquet. Cook uncovered at a bare simmer for about 2 1/2 hours. Turn off the heat and let stand for an hour or so. Remove meaty bones, strain the stock and refrigerate overnight.
The next morning, skim any fat from the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to 8 cups.

I borrowed this method from Tom Colicchio, in his book Think Like a Chef.
Nancy Horn does her stock in the oven (her recipe is below).

Nancy Horn of Dish Cafe and Catering Co.
Yield, about 3 quarts soup.
This soup is all about barley absorbing turkey broth, so make your own broth for the best soup. Store bought canned broth just doesn’t cut it, in this case.

Place a dutch oven (my 6Q white Le Creuset) on the stove over medium high heat. Add 1 Tbsp each of butter and olive oil. Peel and chop 3 carrots, 3 celery stalks, 2 large leeks (tender parts), 1 large yellow onion. Add to pot, along with 1 bay leaf. Stir and season with salt/pepper mixture and sauté until vegetables are softened and beginning to brown around edges. [Takes about an hour to this point.]
Peel and smash 4 cloves garlic; add to pot and cook a minute. Add 1 cup dry white wine and stir to deglaze the pot. Simmer to reduce wine by half.
Add 8 cups turkey stock, bring to a simmer and add 1 cup pearl barley and 3 sprigs thyme. Stir well to incorporate. Simmer, covered, stirring every now and then until barley is tender, about 1 hour.
Chop and stir in 1 bunch Italian Parsley and 2 cups shredded cooked turkey. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Adjust amount of stock for brothyness. Serve with Romano or Parmesan cheese.

I use a salt/pepper mixture of 2 parts kosher salt, 1 part coarsely ground pepper.
Instead of parsley I used a small, young and tender bunch of Swiss chard,
torn in pieces and stems removed. (At our winter Garden Shop Farmers Market there’s a guy that grows hydroponic vegetables in a cold frame. Young, tender Swiss Chard year ’round.)

That, my friends, is yummy soup. Even better the next day for lunch.

TURKEY STOCK – Oven Method
Nancy Horn of Dish Cafe and Catering Co.
Yield, about 6 quarts.

Preheat Oven to 225°F.
In a large stockpot, place Turkey carcass, 4 each carrots and celery stalks; 2 onions, quartered, unpeeled; 1 lemon, rinsed and quartered; 6 peppercorns, 3 bay leaves; an herb bouquet. Cover with cold water. Cover and place in oven for 12 hours.
Remove from oven, remove solids and strain. Let stand for at least an hour and skim or otherwise remove fat.

Good Mother Sierra Chili

Sierra Canyon Chili Cookoff

A Sierra Canyon tradition……homemade chili tasting!! Taste your way through 9 different chili’s…and prepare to be dazzled! Our contestants plan to tantalize your taste buds with their favorite Chili recipes. Your $5 Tasting Fee includes a salad station, tasting of all entries, soda, beer, water and a small bowl of “non-contestant” Chili prepared by Sierra Canyon’s own Don Chess. Sign up at the front desk today!

Number 2 in your program, Number 1 in your mouth.

Goodness gracious…!!! I happened to read that just after I made Southwestern Black Beans with Chicken Soup; a recipe I got from the Reno Gazette Journal (RGJ) By Nancy Horn, chef, co-owner of Dish Cafe. That was good; used a tablespoon of Chili Powder and other interesting spices. I thought that with subtractions and additions this could make a fine chili.

Out with the potatoes, out with the chicken, in with some cubed beef, in with some spicy Italian sausage. Out with the onion/celery/carrot mirepoix, in with a chili friendly onion/celery/green bell pepper mirepoix. Interesting that her soup used no tomatoes, but tomatillos. I went with that.

I’m not new to the chili game. It’s one of my favorite soups — and I’m a soup guy. Back in Ought-Seven, about this time of year, I posted an essay called CHILI: My Top Five.

Since then, I’ve found a couple others that I like a lot, but — feeling in an adventurous mood — I wanted to go with this whole new concoction.

I did a test recipe, ate it, then tried it on son Brian and his wife. It was a few days old by then, but with chili, that’s a good thing. I liked it a lot for the second time. Brian observed that it had good chili flavor and was spiced just right — both of our sons are “supertasters” — but the meat chunks were too big… they shouldn’t be much bigger than the beans.

some ingredients: mirepoix, cubed chuck steak, Spicy Italian Sausages

my test batch with cilantro

carol’s serving gussied up with cilantro, grated cheese, and sour cream

That was good stuff as noted, and passed the Brian test a few days later.

I had some Whole Food Spicy Italian Sausage left over, so I experimented with lil-tiny meatballs.

making lil-tiny meatballs out of spicy italian sausage

Take a sausage, remove the casing, cut in half lengthwise, cut each half into rough cubes and roll between your thumb and forefinger to get a lil-tiny meatball.

browning the balls

Not so hard, and they browned nicely. (I ate my test samples with some leftover roasted celery soup. Yum.) Continue reading

Turkey Left Over

I’m just getting around to writing about our leftover Thanksgiving turkey.
If we don’t serve a turkey on Thanksgiving, Carol likes to buy one anyway, just to have turkey leftovers. I’m no fan of sandwiches — as you must know by now — so I’ve made Turkey Pot Pie which is pretty good, and other kinds of soups and stews. This year, I was attracted to the Dish it Up column in the Reno Gazette Journal (RGJ) for Turkey Barley Soup. That column is written by Nancy Horn, owner of Dish Cafe and Catering in Reno. As you shall see, she writes about home-style food that tastes good.

The RGJ has a really good food section that appears on Wednesdays. It usually has five full pages and covers things interesting enough that I usually read it all. This week — January 23 — for example:

Do they cut the Mustard: We blind taste 11 national brands…
Dish it Up: Pantry Raid! Southwestern black beans
Courtney’s Kitchen: Chicken won tons, Orange beef by Courtney Barnes of Gourmet Rooster
In One Ear: Tidbits, sightings and buzz from Northern Nevada’s food and drink scene.
Tilapia steamed with soy sauce, ginger by Sara Moulton (AP)
Sweet potatoes loaded with cheese and kale by Elizabeth Karmel (AP)
Poached eggs over ricotta and arugula by J.M. Hirsh (AP)

Surprise! The the Dish It Up column for the week of November 27 was for Turkey Barley Soup. I wouldn’t be writing this if the soup weren’t incredibly good and EZ and the leftovers great. It seems as though it would freeze well, but ours wasn’t around long enough to try that.

start chopping… onion, celery, carrot

Continue reading

Finally, Fresh Pea Soup Defined

Peas loving their own pods with a potato sidekick.

Old subject, new take…
My take on peas and fresh pea soup has been evolving over the years as chronicled on eats…


June 2006

Sweet Pea & Green Garlic Soup by Janet Fletcher, SF Chronicle — where chicken (or vegetable) broth makes the soup soupy…

May 2009

English Peas and…
in this case, pasta, inspired by Tom Colicchio’s book, “Think Like a Chef.”

April 2010
Fresh Peas and other fresh things… where I took off from a recipe sent by son Eric:

Fresh Pea Soup
“Here’s what we’ve been serving on our table recently. Recipes from Eric & Alison’s Tilth Table, November 1998 (From the River Cafe Cook Book)”

It is real good, but fairly standard, using chicken broth as the soupy vehicle.

December 2011

carrots x 3 + peas
I made this dinner back in fresh English pea season, but then got involved with going to Kyiv and so on. I finally got around to publishing it because the colors are so fresh and beautiful.

tri-colored carrots

May 2011

Fresh Pea Soup
I’ve been working on the perfect fresh pea soup for some time. After a few tries, I found one from The Washington Post that made some sense to me.

“A surprising amount of flavor can be coaxed from spent pea pods by simmering them in water.”

Why wouldn’t anybody think of that? Continue reading

A Moving Meal

Bean Ragout a la Bon Appitit, Barbara, Lidia and me.
I was inspired by White Bean Ragout with Toast I read about in Bon Appetit on the drive home from our last scout trip to Reno. That recipe is all about building a flavor base for what is essentially a white bean and tomato bread salad made soup by adding liquid. The soffritto, an Italian blend of chopped cooked aromatics is that flavor base. That’s fine, but the recipe makes about 3 cups of soffritto and only uses 1/2 cup… refrigerate or freeze the balance for use in many strange and wonderful ways. Well… I’m trying to EMPTY the freezer.
I do have a container of Lidia’s Soup Base in the freezer. (Lidia Bastianich: if you don’t know her, you are missing out.) I’m not sure what’s in it or why I made it in the first place, but I’ll bet it’ll be good with white beans. So I got that out to thaw and I’m on my way to some kind of bean soup or stew. I checked my recipe files and glommed onto Barbara Kafka’s Bean and Kale Soup.

So I had a plan, and all I needed was the Kale. I’ll start with Barbara’s Bean and Kale Soup but substitute Lidia’s Soup Base for the broth and borrow the croutons from the Bon Appitit recipe.

The ragout is cooked and croutons in the bowl.

Ragout on the table.

Feast in the midst of chaos.

That was delicious.

Lidia’s Soup Base turned out to be a bit tomatoey and garlicy and made it really great with the beans and greens. I used farfalle pasta — which I don’t much like — but we had a bunch of it in the cupboard, so using it up is a good thing.

Here’s what I did:

Bean & Kale Ragout with Croutons
Adapted from Bean & Kale Soup, from Soup: A Way of Life by Barbara Kafka
Altered and rewritten by Marcus, Judith Jones style.

Makes about 5 cups; 4 first-course servings.

Wash and trim 1 bunch kale and in a medium saucepan, over medium heat, cook the kale with 1?2 cup (125 ml) water and 1 teaspoon kosher salt until tender. Drain and coarsely chop the kale, reserving any liquid that remains.

Rub some slices rustic bread with garlic, drizzle with olive oil and bake on a baking sheet at 400°F for about 5 minutes until just right. (I keep slices of bread in the freezer for this purpose, and bake in the countertop convection oven.)

Very finely chop 2 flat anchovy fillets together with the 1?4 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves or dried. Reserve.

Put on enough water for 1/2 cup shell pasta and cook for 5 or 6 minutes (half the time on the package). Reserve in its water if necessary.

Smash and peel 2 garlic cloves and in a medium saucepan, stir together 1?3 cup (80 ml) olive oil and the garlic over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the garlic is pale gold, about 10 minutes. Take the pan off heat and stir in the anchovies and rosemary for 1 minute. [A furious sizzle ensues when you throw the anchovies into the very hot oil.]

Discard the garlic. Put the pan back on heat and stir in the kale and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring to thoroughly coat it with the oil. Stir in 1 cup drained, cooked small white beans (or rinsed canned beans). Cook for 3 minutes.

Stir in the reserved kale cooking liquid and 3 cups broth (here’s where I used Lidia’s Soup Base). Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and stir in 1?2 cup (60 g) of your partially cooked small shell macaroni. Simmer for 6 minutes, or until the pasta is tender. Adjust the seasoning, if necessary.

Place 3 or 4 croutons in each serving bowl, top with the beans greens and broth.

Pass Parmesan cheese and freshly ground pepper at the table.

I noodled around in my recipe database and actually found a recipe I might have used for Lidia’s Soup Base — a part of larger cook-most-of-the-day Hearty Minestra Base with Cranberry Beans, Potatoes, and Pork

It is not so different from the Soffritto of the Bon Appitit recipe. (Ironically, I rejected that recipe because I didn’t want to make the soffritto, only to discover I had something similar in my own freezer.) So I altered Bon Appitit to make it tomatoey, and suggest that. I’m not sure I’m right and I haven’t tested this, but it seems a lot like Lidia’s other soffritto recipes. When I get moved, I promise to test it.

Faux Lidia Soup Base
Garlic — finely grate 3 garlic cloves.
Chop 3 medium onions and 1 red bell pepper — Pulse in a food processor until finely chopped but not puréed. Mix well in a bowl.
Heat 1/2 cup olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add onion mixture (it may splatter) and season with salt and pepper. Simmer, stirring often, until vegetables are completely softened, about 30 minutes. Make a hot spot in the middle of your skillet; add the finely grated garlic and 2 teaspoons tomato paste and cook, stirring that into the onion mixture until tomato paste begins to turn deep red, about 3 minutes. Add a large can of San Marzano tomatoes with their juices. Break up the tomatoes with your hands or a wooden spoon and cook for at least 30 minutes until all the flavors are blended and the sauce is smooth.

Bon Appitit, as they say.
Yum, as I say.


…among others

We missed the Fish Club while we were traveling up north, but the next Saturday we were treated to albacore.

Anna, of SIREN SongSA wrote,

“WE HAVE ALBACORE and I am more popular than ever.  I have been asking my fish plant and fishermen buddies what they like to do with crazy fresh albacore when they can get their hands on it. Nearly every person who answered started out with, “You cube it up, wrap it in bacon, then soak it in…” The … is the variable here. Wrap it in bacon is the rule. Duh.

We wrapped it, soaked it and grilled it and it was good. It would have been excellent, had I not overcooked it. On the next albacore, I’ll do it up proud and write about it, but the point of this story is about what I did with the wonderful fresh albacore that I didn’t wrap, soak and grill. That brings us to bouillabaisse.

Thanks to Brian and his Reno wedding, I have an easy and tasty go-to fish soup recipe.

Back in May 2010, Amanda Hesser wrote in the NYT Magazine about bouillabaisse. It was one of her “Recipe Redux” columns where she unearths an old recipe and asks a chef to suggest an updated version. When I got that issue, I couldn’t wait to try the updated 2010: Olive-Oil-Poached Cod With Saffron-Blood-Orange Nage, the “new fangled” version of the lead 1904 Bouillabaisse, and I did cook that.

poached cod

olive oil poached cod with saffron blood orange nage

I might never have gotten around to the 1904 version but when we were at Brian’s for the Saturday wedding in Reno:

“The limo was to pick us up at three o’clock at the Vista Restaurant, a five minute drive away – Limos are not allowed to pick up at private residences – the morning was open for hair, nails, pick-up-the-cake and Brian’s list of errands.
Brian planned bouillabaisse for lunch Saturday. He said its so easy, he has it often. As it turned out, it was a “Recipe Redux” Amanda Hesser does in the New York Times Magazine from time to time. I had made the 2010 version: Olive Oil Poached Cod with Saffron Blood Orange Nage. Brian can’t do citrus, so his go-to is the 1904 Bouillabaisse. He pulled out the tattered, stained Magazine page and handed it to me. We went and got some fish for it and I walked back from Scolari’s Supermarket — It is possible to walk in Sparks — while Brian went off on his errands. I started prepping… time passed and nobody came back from their stuff. Little did I know I’d be cooking lunch alone in a strange kitchen with a deadline. Soup was great!”

What else would come to mind when I had lovely chunks of fish to use?

my unused chunk of albacore fillet, lovely

my unused chunk of albacore fillet, lovely

...cut into chunks for "souping"

...cut into chunks for "souping"

In addition to the fish chunks, it takes scallops and shrimp — but only a few of each. Lucky for me, I can go to Whole Food and get six shrimp and four scallops, and I did.

six shrimp

six shrimp

four scallops

four scallops

The first order of business is to make the broth. That’s a matter of assembling and cooking olive oil, tomatoes, thinly sliced onion, thinly sliced carrot, saffron, a bay leaf, sprigs of parsley and cloves of garlic.

broth for the bouillabaisse cooking to the goodness stage

broth for the bouillabaisse cooking to the goodness stage

Once that’s all cooked until everything melts into goodness, add fish broth and wine and bring to a boil.

wine and broth added, ready for the fish and seafood

wine and broth added, ready for the fish and seafood

Now, you can add the fish or turn it off and wait for dinnertime.

When you come back to your broth, reheat, add the fish and cook for about 5 minutes until its done.

fish and seafood further cut into bite-sized pieces

fish and seafood further cut into bite-sized pieces

1904 bouillabaisse served

1904 bouillabaisse served

This is not such a far cry from the Bouillabaisse Mark Bittman expounded upon in his NY Times blog in 2009, adapting Julia Child’s Bouillabaisse to his Long Island sensibilities. That one I did make and write about.

So I guess — after all that — my point is: If you’ve got a great piece of fish, make a bouillabaisse; it’s not hard, and you’ll thank me for reminding you. Continue reading


A few years ago, I posted “Chili: My Top Five“. (April 4, 2007). A couple of years later, Carol found this chili recipe on the Food Network (or saw the show, or something), and made it for dinner. It incorporates pretty much everything a chili aficionado would hate: ground meat, lots of canned beans – 2 kinds, canned tomatoes and red and yellow bell pepper. I call it “state fair chili” because it’s just like my mother used to make for the Methodist Church booth at the Ohio State Fair. Not too soupy, not too spicy.

Carol made it pretty straight, with all the canned stuff, but I twist it a little. Still, it’s nothing like my top five, but a nice change of pace from time to time when you want a hearty meal.

Do you ever read the “Prep Time” and “Cook Time” in recipes… especially in Food Network recipes? I used to, but now I glance at it and then glance at the recipe. If the ingredient list is fairly long and the word “chopped” is used a lot, then it will probably take way longer than they say — unless, of course, you have a team of prep cooks. I don’t. So this one said:
Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 1 hr 45 min

Let’s see, we have some chopping to do:

6 slices thick-cut applewood smoked bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped

and we need to do some measuring:

3 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon chipotle chili powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Prep Time: 15 minutes? In a pigs ass… It took me an hour — I really did time it. Now I may be a bit persnickety – I like to peel my bell peppers, for example, but still.

Cook Time 1 hour 45 minutes? Closer. It took 30 min from bacon to bubbly (cook bacon, cook vegetables, brown meat, stir in beans and tomatoes and get bubbly). Then it says “simmer for 1 1/2 hours, then it says “best if you let it sit for an hour after cooking.” So where does that hour go? So I get 4 hours from start of prep to start of dinner. That’s OK… just tell me.

start off by cooking your bacon

start off by cooking your bacon

add your vegetables and spices and cook until softened

add your vegetables and spices and cook until softened

add your beef and brown, add your sausage and brown, stir into the vegetables

add your beef and brown, add your sausage and brown, stir into the vegetables

add your beans and stir in

add your beans and stir in

add your tomatoes, bring to bubbly and simmer

add your tomatoes, bring to bubbly and simmer

I cooked my chili in the afternoon, then re-heated for dinner (a massive amount of chili in a cast iron pot doesn’t cool very quickly).


The chili turned out quite thick, making a pile of chili rather than a bowl of chili. Carol said I could have served it on a plate, recalling the first time I went to her house to meet her parents. Continue reading


English peas.JPGBy about this time of year, the English peas from Iacopi farm are abundant, piled high in their brown paper bags at the market, the shells bright pea green and firm to the touch;  just squeeze one and it will snap open to reveal rows of perfect peas inside. This is the time when I MUST make fresh pea soup. I’ve been working on the perfect fresh pea soup for some time. After a few tries, I found one from The Washington Post that made some sense to me.
“A surprising amount of flavor can be coaxed from spent pea pods by simmering them in water.”
Why wouldn’t anybody think of that?

I made my first batch from that recipe. It called for 1 pound peas in the pod, pods scrubbed. That’s not very many peas. My Iacopi bag is 2 1/4 pounds of peas-in-the-pod = 2 cups or 12 ounces by weight, shelled.

“In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the empty pea pods, scallions, parsley, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and water to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer briskly for 20 minutes. Strain the broth, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Reserve the broth; you should have at least 3 cups.”

So I put all my shells, etc, in a big pot… it took 16 cups of water to cover. [Revelation: I don’t have to use all the pods for the pod stock] So… I reduced the stock for about 15 minutes after removing the pods. Otherwise, I pretty much doubled the recipe. The resulting soup (eaten warm after cooking) was a little thin for my taste, but tasted good, with a nice, bright fresh pea flavor. As a result, I re-wrote the recipe for future use.

Since I’m not a pro test kitchen, I don’t make batches and batches of a dish when developing or refining a recipe. Therefore I made good notes and as we were in the mood for fresh pea soup, I would make some modifications and more notes. I adjusted quantities of each ingredient and added potatoes for thickening. I spared some peas from the blender to add interest to the finished soup.

Finally, I have what I consider to be a perfect fresh pea soup recipe.


The soup can be served warm, room temperature or chilled; I prefer warm.

Adapted from a recipe that appeared in The Washington Post, April, 2005 where it was
adapted from “A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen,” by Jack Bishop (Houghton Mifflin, 2004).
About 10 cups


1 bag peas from Iacopi Farm, about 2 1/4 pounds in-the-pod = about 2 cups shelled, scrubbed
6 scallions (white and light-green parts), chopped
sprigs fresh parsley (optional)
1 teaspoon salt
10 cups water

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
5 cups pod broth
1 cup potatoes, diced to about “pea size”
4 cups chopped tender green lettuce leaves, preferably Boston lettuce
creme fraiche or sour cream, for optional garnish
Finely torn mint leaves, for optional garnish

Shell the peas and reserve both peas and pods.

In a large pot over medium-high heat, bring about 10 cups of the empty pea pods, the scallions, salt and water to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer briskly for 20 minutes. Strain the broth, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Reserve the broth; you should have about 6 cups.

Melt the butter in the empty saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion, salt and the sugar. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened but not browned, about 10 minutes. Add the 5 cups broth and the potatoes, increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Simmer briskly for 2 minutes, add the peas and simmer for 3 more minutes. Add the lettuce and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool for at least 10 minutes.

With a slotted spoon, remove about 3/4 cup of the peas and potatoes. Puree the soup in batches in a blender until very smooth. Add back the peas and potatoes. Serve warm or, if desired, cover and refrigerate until chilled through.

To serve, ladle the soup into individual bowls. If desired, top with a dollop of creme fraiche and/or scattering of mint.