On Sunday I made one of my favorite repurposed meals: mac & cheese using the rinds from a cheese plate earlier in the day. It was supposed to be my post for this week, since the prosciutto & pea mac and the mushroom mac both came out awesome. But, cooking while the Pats – Ravens game came down to the wire had me distracted and I forgot to take pictures after the initial shots of the roux. Oops. Who wants to learn about Pete’s Soups?!?!?!
I have three go-to soups; Mushroom Barley (sometimes with chicken), Hambone Soup, and Roast Vegetable. The mushroom barley one is almost always the exact same set of ingredients, and that’s a little boring, so lets save that one for another time if need be. Instead, let’s focus on the other two “clear all the sh*t out of your fridge in one pot” soups: hambone and roast vegetable. Let’s start with the…
Here’s what you’ll need:
1 hambone (+additional cubed ham depending on amount left on hambone)
1lb package of dried beans (chef’s choice, I like the mixed bean bag)
3 ribs celery chopped
4-5 peeled carrots chopped
1 medium onion chopped
4-5 cloves garlic chopped
1/2 4oz can tomato paste
Olive oil, salt & pepper
Soak the beans overnight the night before you plan to cook the soup. Drain and rinse the beans thoroughly, removing any stones or loose bean skins shortly before cooking.
Preheat oven to 300F. In a large dutch oven (or similar heavy pot), heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat and saute the onion, carrot, garlic, and celery seasoned with salt and pepper. Cook until onion is translucent, about 8-10 minutes, before stirring in tomato paste.
After cooking together for a few minutes, add in the hambone (+additional ham if necessary), the drained and rinsed beans, and a bay leaf.
Add in 8-10 cups of water, or enough to amply cover all ingredients and bring up to a simmer on the stove top.
Put cover on the dutch oven and place in the 300F preheated oven to cook for 4 hours. After which, you should have something that looks like this.
Fish the hambone out of the pot with a pair of tongs and place any meat remaining on the bone back in the pot. Pour in 2-4 ounces of dry sherry (to taste) and simmer, uncovered, for another 30-45 minutes stirring regularly until the liquid has reduced by 1/4 to 1/3.
Ladle into bowls, and you have a hearty, filling stew that easily stands up as a full meal.
Roast Vegetable Soup
This one is truly a kitchen sink soup. Think of it as a way to utilize all the vegetables in your fridge that you never got around to cooking during the week. If anyone else has that problem.
The requirements are that you need some combination of celery, onion, carrot, and garlic as a base, a starchy vegetable, and a carton or two of chicken broth. I usually make it with butternut squash as the starch, but I’ve also used potato, and recently included apples and ginger. In those cases you mix all vegetables, season, roast, then dump into a pot with the broth to simmer, then blend. That simple. Here’s what you’ll need for an alternate version with black beans (plus a little more detail on each of those steps):
3 cans black beans
1 large onion quartered
5 ribs celery cut in large pieces
6 peeled carrots cut in large pieces
4-5 peeled garlic cloves
32-48 ounces of chicken broth
1/2 4oz can of tomato paste
1 bunch cilantro
Olive oil, salt & pepper
Preheat oven to 450F. Place all vegetables, except the beans, in a large bowl and stir in tomato paste, cayenne and cumin powder to taste, salt & pepper, and a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Mix until all vegetables are well coated with seasonings.
Pour contents onto a nonstick baking sheet and place on top rack of a preheated 450F oven.
After 10-12 minutes, switch to a low broil for an additional 3-5 minutes (with the oven door slightly ajar) to add a little char to some of the veggies.
Dump the contents of the pan into a large pot along with the three cans of rinsed beans, juice from the lime, chopped cilantro to taste (I happily add a whole bunch worth of leaves), and cover with chicken broth. Bring to a boil.
Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 30-45 minutes, covered. The vegetables should be easily soft to the touch of a knife or fork. Using a ladle, transfer the vegetables and liquid to a blender in waves, emptying into a large bowl once blended.
Puree by pulsing and letting rest a few times with the vent cap open slightly to let steam escape. The goal is a thick looking liquid, kind of like a bean and vegetable smoothie.
Despite not having any cream or milk, there is a deceptive silkiness to any roast vegetable soup made like this and blended well. The only downside of the bean version is the occasional textural contrast of the bean skins. Otherwise, it’s got all the right flavors with the cilantro, lime, and bean complimenting each other well and some nice spicy heat from the cayenne and black pepper.
And that’s that. Anyone want to come over for roast goat head and homemade tortillas this Sunday??? I’m having a lot of trouble finding a taker for that offer. Facebook me y’all!