White Wine and Bean Soup: A Tasty Meal Out of Practically Nothing

Note: this is a reprint of a Montana Kaimin column that ran Nov. 10, 2010. I’m having a delightful week living off sub sandwiches and pizza my mom sent home with me, and will probably resume cooking properly next week.

My Saturday mornings are now bereft and empty since the farmer’s markets are over for the year. I bought a ton of veggies at the last market, thinking they’d last a while. But I love produce like I love beer; I try to stock up, but I always just use it all at once. So here I am, a few weeks later, trying to use the odd remainders of vegetables I bought.

I’m also at the semi-hungry couple weeks in November when I’ve run out of the eggs my parents brought me, and I’m trying to stretch my food until Thanksgiving, when I can raid my mom’s pantry again. (Granted, I’ve also blown most of my grocery money this month because Bayern is making Doppelbock again, and it’s my favorite beer ever.)

The obvious answer to these dilemmas is to make soup. You know what makes it extra delicious? A little booze. The beauty of cooking with alcoholic beverages is that you only need to pour in a little bit to add some nice flavor, and then you drink the rest! A little dark beer or dry wine improves just about everything.

Though I do not cook with Doppelbock. It is my precious. This recipe, like most everything I do, is a rough approximation. Soup is not a precise art, since it’s about chucking in whatever you think will make it tasty. You can certainly substitute any of the random excess veggies you have lying around.

 Farmers Market Remainder White Wine and Bean Soup

1 onion

 1/2 cabbage

 2–3 carrots

1–2 peppers of any persuasion, preferably ancho chilies

1/3 cup dry white wine

Soup stock

Spices: basil and a bay leaf, at minimum

Olive oil

Can of beans — garbanzo or great northern are tasty

Dice vegetables and sauté in the bottom of a soup pot in hot oil. Add your wine— I typically use a pinot grigio — and let the alcohol cook off. When the onions are softened, pour in a quart of water and soup stock to taste. (I like the powdered chicken stock that you can buy at the bulk section of Good Food Store.) Stir in the spices and bay leaf. Add pepper and salt as needed. Let the soup simmer until vegetables are tender, then add a can of beans if you got ‘em. Serve this up with a bit of bread and cheese, and you have a delicious meal made out of practically nothing that will last you for days. Or, two minutes, if you also feed your roommates.

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