Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Cranberry Bean Soup with Dandelion Greens

A great soup for cold winter nights. Dandelion greens are most often associated with the spring, but they're available year-round. They're more bitter in the wintertime so they should be used then for soups, not salads.

Ingedients
1 package (1 lb or 2 cups) dried cranberry beans
1 bunch (about 1 lb.) dandelion greens
olive oil
3 carrots, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
3 small or 2 medium onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 small potatoes, diced
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
3 tablespoons Miso, vegetable broth cube or soy sauce (optional)

1. Pick through and wash the dried cranberry beans. Soak them overnight or for at least 8 hours. Alternatively, you can throw them in a pot, bring them to a boil for 10 minutes, then remove them from the heat, soaking for 2 hours.

2. Drain and rinse the beans.

3. Heat 4 tablespoons olive oil in a soup or stockpot over medium heat. When it's hot, throw in carrots, celery, onions, garlic, and potatoes. Let them saute in the oil for 4-5 minutes.

4. Add the bay leaves and the soaked cranberry beans and 8 cups of water. Bring to a boil and them simmer until the beans are tender (anywhere from thirty minutes to two hours, depending on your beans).

5. Wash the dandelion greens well in several changes of water. Strip the leaves from the stalks, discard the stalks and then chop the leaves well. Add the greens to the soup and simmer until the greens are wilted and tender.

6. Stir in the miso, a vegetable broth cube and/or some soy sauce to enrich the broth. Sprinkle in half the chopped parsley.

7. Ladle into bowls and serve with grated Parmesan cheese, a dollop of pesto, a sprinkle of the remaining parsley and slices of crusty French bread.

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