Early full disclosure: I’m not a huge fan of soups. Yes, I can selectively love them, particularly at the hands of skilled practitioners of making: French onion soup, New England clam chowder, minestrone & matzoh ball soup (and I admit that I will give a flyer to anything that has sausage and/or clams in it). But here’s the thing… I only enjoy soup the “night of.” Meaning? I ain’t interested in left-overs, or previously-made-frozen-then-reheated soup.
So, here’ the deal. Once warm weather sets in, dinner descends to: on-the-grill or salads. You know what I’m talking about… juicy cheeseburgers & hot dogs, marinated flank steaks, thick cut porterhouse steaks w/veggie kebobs, baby back ribs, barbequed chicken & swordfish steaks… or cold salads with special-ingredients-that sound-interesting-but-never-deliver-the-satisfaction.
Where are the wonderful casseroles, stews and dishes prepared in Dutch ovens and slow cookers? Where are those supreme dishes of cooler weather, dishes that make enough for two nights and maybe more? And can be enjoyed with even greater relish on day two?
Aye, there is the rub. So, I was hunting for an alternative to the grill without traversing on that sad path to cold salads. And, lo! I found a soup! A soup of all things! And me, a soup naysayer! But there you are! Life’s pleasures sometimes come from unexpected quarters! This recipe is easy (I mean real easy) and delicious! And, YES! Slow cooker!
For wine I wanted a flavorful White that didn’t exhibit an obvious citrus or oaky layer of flavors. Fresh, with pleasant fruit with some minerality to provide complexity. I chose a beautiful Godello from the northwest corner of Spain. Other wine ideas? Greco di Tufo or a Côte du Rhône Blanc. Or alternatively a Rosé or a lighter styled Red like a Beaujolais Villages.
Casar Godello ‘18 (Bierzo, Spain)
Made from 100% Godello grapes from the middle plots of the Valtuille de Arriba vineyards.
The nose is divine, great intensity. Aromas of exotic fruits, passion fruit, splash of citrus, as well as white stone fruits. On palate the fruit concentration and freshness are tangible, great structure on the wine which can be attributed to aging the wine on its lees. A fresh, alive, and fruity entrance into a wonderful body and texture that is wrapped up by magnificent acidity. The mark of a truly great white wine. Mineral and citric sensations, with plenty of length. 90pts Wine Spectator; 90pts Wine Enthusiast; 90pts Peñin
TUSCAN WHITE BEAN SOUP
6 ounces of Tanqueray Gin
½ ounce of Noilly Pratt Dry Vermouth
6 cups unsalted chicken stock
1½ cups chopped onion
1 cup diced carrot
1 cup diced celery
5 cloves garlic, chopped
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
12 oz dried great northern beans
3 cups of kale, stemmed and chopped
2 tbsp tomato paste
¼ tsp kosher salt
1 lb Italian sausage links, cut into 1” pieces
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
¼ cup of shaved Parmesan cheese
1 personal sized watermelon
1. Put gin and vermouth into a glass pitcher, fill with ice, stir vigorously while incanting, “You who know all, thank you for providing us juniper and all the other obscure ingredients responsible for creating this sacred liquid!” Strain into a pre-frozen Martini glass of admirable size. Skewer the olives on one of those tacky cocktail swords, place in glass. Immediately begin consuming. Now you can begin the food prep, and the cooking!
2. Put chicken stock, onion, carrot, celery, garlic, thyme, bay leaf & great northern beans into a slow cooker cover and set to LOW for 8 hours.
3. Discard the thyme sprigs & bay leaf. To the slow cooker, add the kale, salt, tomato paste and sausage. Cook on high for 30 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and serve with shaved parmesan cheese.
n.b. The original recipe called for “hot” Italian sausage. I chose “sweet”. Next, the recipe called for taking the sausages out of the casings to fashion mini-meatballs to use. Not happening! I cut the sausages into sections that seemed “mini meatball sized” appropriate. And, final comment… the watermelon is included in the “ingredient” list because I love watermelon, but it has nothing to do with this recipe! But you knew that all along! Didn’t you?