Cooking with Flare

three heads are better than one

You regulars may have noticed the lack of a “Weekend Eats (and Drinks)” post yesterday. This weekend was filled with some truly wonderful food and drink, but it turned out to be my undoing.


After spending the better part of our Saturday trekking around the city on food safari, and then heading out again on Sunday to check out Wintermarket (you can see my photos here) – well, let’s just say that my body was not entirely happy with me. Two days in a row of schlepping around in the cold and damp while carrying heavy bags sent me right into a flare, and I spent much of my Monday in bed trying to recover.


But I don’t always do a good job of listening when my body tells me to slow down, so I didn’t rest as much as I probably should have – who can rest this time of year, anyway – and I went forward with the dinner I had planned for Monday night.


I used to make a version of this white bean and roasted garlic soup all of the time using canned beans, but on our last visit to Marlow and Sons I noticed they are now stocking the Rancho Gordo beans all of you Bay area peeps rave about, so of course I grabbed a bag.

hill of beans

Using dried beans instead of canned required an extra step and a bit more time on the stove, but I think the soup benefited from both. The hardest part was the chopping, really, and once everything was in the pot I could sit back with my feet up and relax with the cats while it simmered away.

Dinner:  December 17, 2007

White Bean & Roasted Garlic Soup

8 oz. dried cannellini beans
Olive oil
2 leeks, halved and sliced into half-moons
3 sprigs winter savory (rosemary, thyme or sage would also work well)
4 cups rich vegetable or chicken stock
1 parmesan rind
1 head garlic
2 cups diced potatoes
1 cup diced carrot
1/2 cup ditalini or other small tube-shaped pasta

Rinse and pick through the beans, place them into a pot and cover them with enough cold water so that there is about an inch of water above the top of the beans. Place a lid on the pot and bring it to a boil, then turn off the heat and let the beans soak for an hour.

In a large, heavy bottomed pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the leeks and cook for a few minutes until tender. Add the beans with their cooking liquid (you should have about 2 cups worth), the savory, the parmesan rind and the stock, cover the pot and simmer for about an hour, until the beans are tender but still a bit firm.

While the soup simmers, preheat the oven to 375. Cut the top off of the garlic bulb, place it in the center of a square of aluminum foil, drizzle a bit of olive oil over the top and seal the garlic up in the foil. Place the garlic into the oven and roast until the garlic is very soft, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside until it is cool enough to handle. Remove the roasted garlic cloves from their skins, place them into a small bowl and mash into a paste.

Remove any savory stems from the soup and discard (the leaves should have fallen off into the broth). Stir in the garlic paste until well-incorporated, then add the potatoes and carrots. Season with salt, re-cover the pan and let it simmer another 30 minutes or so, until the potatoes and carrots are tender. Add the pasta and cook for another 10-15 minutes. Remove the parmesan rind and spoon the soup into bowls, topping with grated parmesan if desired.

16 thoughts on “Cooking with Flare

  1. Heather says:

    Is that ham or something in the soup as well? Also where would I find a parmesan rind? Would a cheese shop just sell me a rind? Sorry about all the questions but this looks so good I would love to make it soon! Actually pretty much all of your recipes on here I would love to try.

  2. Jennifer Hess says:

    Hi Heather! Actually, those are potatoes – they’re this sort of pink-fleshed variety we picked up over the weekend, and they kind of do look like ham! I think you could probably ask for a rind at your cheese shop. I usually just throw my rinds into a freezer bag when I get down to the end of a wedge of parmesan so I always have them on hand. They add a nice richness to the stock. Enjoy!

  3. Oh, golly! I made myself a big pot of ham and beans this weekend, but just used plain-jane Navy beans since I never knew about heirloom dry beans! But bean soup is just the ticket for this sort of frosty weather, isn’t it? So filling and simple!

    My local Whole Foods cheese shop will sell the rinds at a discounted price for the very purpose of soup-enrichment. I’ve actually thrown them in my food processor and ground them up to use in recipes where the texture and meltiness weren’t as important as the flavor.

    Thanks for the pictures — I’m looking forward to leftover bean soup even more now! 🙂

  4. Jennifer Hess says:

    Hi Melissa – we really liked them, and I’ll definitely buy them again. The cannellini were nice and plump and cooked up beautifully. I’m eager to try some of the other varieties they offer. 🙂

  5. Oh, man, that looks good. And yes, those potatoes look just like ham!

    I am biased (’cause I’m friends with the farmer) but I think the RG heirloom beans are so superior to the kind you buy at the store, they’re like a different thing all together. They actually taste like something rather than just being all texture.

  6. Jennifer Hess says:

    Anita – please pass along our compliments to the farmer, because these were some mighty fine beans. RG has two new fans, for sure.

  7. Tony Torres says:

    Nice soup Jenn. It sounds a bit wasteful to stick a lonely head of garlic in a large over for 45 mins. My wife sometimes uses the Microwave to soften up the garlics for her Japanese recipes. I wonder if this would work as well for your recipe? Oh, I made your Enchilada last night (used cheddar instead of Jack cheese). It was great!

  8. Jennifer Hess says:

    Hi Tony – I’m glad the enchilada worked well for you! I agree, it might be a little overkill to roast the garlic in the oven as I did, but we don’t have a microwave – I’ll have to keep that method in mind if we have one in our next place. 🙂

  9. Tony Torres says:

    Next Place? Are you leaving Bushwick so soon? By the way, I grew up on Evergreen and Willoughby and spent my Junior and High school years living above the Northeast Kingdom. Only then it was a small sweat shop. Hope your next place has better grocery stores!

  10. Jennifer—Another lovely sounding meal. Being a total carnivore, I might throw in a little ham or kielbasa. If I’m too impatient to soak and cook dried beans, what would be the canned bean equivalent of 8 ounces of dried?

  11. Jennifer Hess says:

    Tony – well, our lease is up at the end of April and we will have been in this space for 4 years, so we do feel like it’s time to move on. We’ve got some thoughts but nothing written in stone yet. 🙂 I’m not too familiar with the area around Northeast Kingdom – we’re over near Broadway and Myrtle. The grocery store situation isn’t ideal, but it’s improving… slowly. I do love the access to good Latin American ingredients around here.

    Hi Terry! These beans were some of the largest cannellini I’ve seen – I think I ended up with about 3-4 cups cooked beans, so if you’re using canned you’ll probably want 2-3 cans of them. And I bet ham or kielbasa would be wonderful in this. This was our meatless Monday dinner but if I had made it on another night, I probably would have tossed a little bacon or pancetta in there. 🙂

  12. Ah Jen, sorry you didn’t feel well. It is really really hard to rest sometimes, even when you know you should. Especially at this ridiculously busy time of year.

    Yah! for the RG beans! We are really spoiled by Steve’s delicious variety of beans. I’m so glad you can find them. I can’t wait to go to M&S with you guys one day. That place sounds more awesome each time you mention it. 🙂

  13. Jennifer Hess says:

    Thanks, Melissa. I usually get antsy when I’m home sick because I feel like I see a million little things I *should* be doing around the apartment. It’s hard to just relax, and this time of year makes it that much harder! But I’m trying. 🙂

    You guys are totally going to love Marlow if/when you get back out here. And I’m definitely going to buy RG beans from them as long as they have them in stock!

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