Grandma’s Lazy Bean Soup

We really haven’t forgotten you. We’ve been getting back into the rhythm of life and haven’t been posting quite as frequently as we had hoped. Never fear, we still have several more of our Grandma’s recipes to share!

Today I made Lazy Bean Soup – it took me about 10 minutes to put together (besides soaking the beans) and then cooked in the crockpot. Simple, delicious, and healthy. Grandma was very interested in health and nutrition and spent time reading about it and planning meals.

This was not so much soup as it was beans. It was hearty and really good. If you want it to be soupier, add another 2-4 cups of water. made this with white beans (we called this “ketchup bean soup” growing up because we loved to add ketchup to it). This is fabulous served with cornbread.

GRANDMA’S LAZY BEAN SOUP
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1# soaked beans (I used white)
1 quart water (use 2-4 extra cups for a soupier soup)
ham bone
1 c. ham pieces
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 c. celery, chopped
1 med onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
salt to taste

Combine all ingredients and cook on low for 12 hours or high for 6 hours.

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Lentil Pasta Soup

Lentil soup is pretty much one of my family’s favorites. It’s comforting, healthy, and just plain delicious. One thing I love about cooking with lentils is that they are quick and easy to prepare – you don’t have to soak the beans or let them cook for hours like most dried beans.

Anyway, I’ve made many variations of lentil soup and this one did not disappoint. I adapted it from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe. The pasta made it extra good and we definitely enjoyed this meatless, hearty soup. It’s heathy and easy – perfect for winter and perfect for these busy holiday prep days!

LENTIL PASTA SOUP
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2 Tb. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 (14 1/2-oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 1/4 c. lentils (I used a combo of green and red)
11 cups chicken broth (or vegetable to make it vegetarian)
3/4 tsp. dried thyme
1 c. dried elbow pasta
Parmesan cheese (opt.)
Olive oil for drizzle (opt.)

Heat the oil in a  large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and carrots and saute for a couple of minutes. Add the garlic, salt, and pepper and saute until all the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes (do not drain). Simmer until the juices evaporate a little and the tomatoes break down, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Add the lentils and mix to coat. Add the broth and stir. Add the thyme. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and simmer over low heat until the lentils are almost tender, about 30 minutes.

Return to a boil and stir in the pasta. Simmer until the pasta is tender but still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

To serve: sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and drizzle with olive oil.

The Salad Bowl: Honey-Balsamic Bean Salad

Spring seemed to pass us by and jump right into summer and I’ve been craving salads! Instead of adding salad to my meal, I want to plan my meals around the salad. The other day I made this protein packed salad. It was a tasty change of pace for a salad. The dressing is vinegar based, so it’s an ideal salad for picnics or your next cookout.

HONEY-BALSAMIC BEAN SALAD
(from 101cookbooks.com)
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8 oz (about 1 1/2 cups each of cooked chickpeas, pinto beans, and black beans (choose other beans if desired)
1 small head of romaine lettuce, washed, dried, and shredded
1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 Tablespoons runny honey
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 + teaspoon sea salt
10 sprigs fresh thyme

Combine the beans, lettuce, and most of the almonds in a large salad bowl. Set aside. Make the dressing by whisking the olive oil, honey, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, and salt in a small container. Taste, and adjust to your tastes.

Run your finger up each thyme sprig, removing the leaves. Add to the salad bowl along with a good amount of the dressing. Toss well, and add more dressing if needed. Top with remaining almonds. Serves 4-6.

Soup Pot: Pesto Bean Soup

I loved the pesto insert in the March Food Network Magazine. It had some great ideas! I made the pesto bean soup and it was amazing! We all enjoyed it so much. And it was very easy to put together as well as being healthy.

PESTO BEAN SOUP – March Food Network Magazine
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5 garlic cloves (I used a little less)
pinch of red pepper flakes
Olive oil
2 cans cannelini beans, drained
1 c. water.
3 Tb. pesto
2 Tb. parmesan cheese
3 c. chicken broth
1 c. celery, chopped
1/2 c. olives, chopped (I omitted since we don’t care for them)
1/2 c. roasted red pepper, chopped

Saute garlic cloves and red pepper flakes in a skillet with olive oil. Add cannellini beans and water; simmer until thick, about 8 minutes. Stir in pesto and parmesan.

Add chicken broth and celery; cook 15 minutes. Stir in olives and roasted peppers.

Off The Shelf: Poor Girl Gourmet

I recently came across this book: Poor Girl Gourmet: Eat in Style on a Bare-Bones Budget by Amy McCoy.  Overall, I was impressed. The book included delicious, health-conscious meals that are aimed at not costing you a fortune. In fact, the author gives you the estimated cost for each dish and how she figures the cost to break down.

The book includes pictures of most of the recipes, which is always a plus. It doesn’t have the layout finesse of a top-dollar publication, but it is attractive nonetheless and easy to flip through. At times I found the author’s instructions somewhat convoluted, but not to the point of making the recipe too hard to figure out. I  should also mention that the book tends toward the Italian flavors.

Recipes include such things as: Spicy Carrot Ginger Soup, Harvest Salad with Honey-Balsamic Dressing, Tomato Tart, Chicken in Cider Gravy, Roasted Carrots with Thyme, Honey-Mustard Coleslaw, Butternut Squash Risotto, Calzones, Cornmeal Crust Peach Crostata, and Banana-Wheat Muffins.

I chose to try the Chicken, Sausage, and Kale Soup. At first I wondered if this soup would be anything special. By the time dinner was finished I was already looking forward to leftovers and planning to put the recipe in my company dinners file. The soup was really, really good.

CHICKEN, SAUSAGE, AND KALE SOUP
(Poor Girl Gourmet)
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1 whole cooked chicken breast, cut crosswise into 1-inch strips
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (I used a bit less)
1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled, trimmed, coarsely chopped
1 celery stalk, trimmed, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp. dried thyme, or 1 Tbsp. fresh
1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
2 (6-inch) links sweet Italian sausage (approximately 1/2 pound), casings removed, meat cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 cups chicken broth
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, including liquid
1 bunch kale (approximately 3/4 pounds), washed, stemmed, coarsely chopped
Kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

While the chicken roasts, prepare the other ingredients. (Bake it covered in a 350F oven until cooked, about 20-30 minutes.)

Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot — at least 6-quart capacity, as the kale starts off as quite a gargantuan pile — over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic and saute — you are in the soffritto phase of this soup now — until the whole lot is softened and has blended together such that the color is leaning toward orange, 10 to 15 minutes.

Add the thyme and crushed red pepper flakes, then add the sausage — you should have in the neighborhood of 24 pieces of 1/2-inch sausage from the two links, in the event that you are curious — cooking until the sausage is lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the broth, the beans with their liquid, and the kale.

Add the chicken pieces to the pot, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the massive pile of kale is fully incorporated into the soup, 20 to 25 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve it forth.

Serves 4.

Note: I served ours with a dollop of pesto on top, but it was equally good the next day without!

Soup Pot: Chili with Chicken and Beans

If you’re planning a Superbowl party for a crowd this Sunday or if you’re just looking for a warming supper during these cold winter days, then you’re in for a treat. This chili is hearty and spiced with enough heat to be interesting, but not overwhelming. And the chicken chunks in the soup bowl are a nice change from your typical beef chili. Topping it with a dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream adds the perfect cooling touch.

CHILI WITH CHICKEN AND BEANS
(from Power Foods)
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1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp olive oil
1 Tbsp cumin seeds
2 onions, finely chopped (about 3 c.)
5 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 green pepper, finely chopped
1 3/4 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-in pieces
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1 dried bay leaf
1 28-oz can chopped tomatoes (if you prefer, use tomatoes with the diced green chiles already added in.)
1 4-oz can green chiles, drained and finely chopped
2 1/2 c. chicken stock (preferably homemade)
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
2 15-oz cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed (I used black and pinto instead)
1/4 c. plain yogurt or sour cream, for garnish
cilantro leaves, for garnish

In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat 1 Tbsp oil and the cumin seeds over medium, stirring, until the cumin is lightly toasted and aromatic, about 1 minute. Add onions, garlic, and green pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft and lightly golden, about 15 minutes.

Push the onion mixture to the edges of the pot, add remaining 1 tsp oil, and increase heat to medium-high. Add the chicken, cooking on one side until seared, 3-5 minutes. Turn chicken pieces and cook additional 2-3 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a plate.

Add chili powder, oregano, and bay leaf to the pot, and cook 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and their juice and green chiles, and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer. Add broth, 1/2 tsp salt, and the beans; season with pepper, and stir to combine.

Bring to a simmer. Stir contents, reduce heat to medium-low,and gently simmer. Cook, uncovered, until bean mixture thickens, about 45 minutes. Return chicken pieces, along with any accumulated juices from plate, to the pot and cook until chicken is tender, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.

Serve immediately, garnished with a dollop of yogurt and cilantro leaves, as desired.

Weekend Fare: Tomato Basil Bean Salad

This is an orginal recipe I came up with for a picnic using ingredients I had on hand.  The tomato and basil came straight from the garden. This can be served at room temperature or for fuller more balanced flavors, chill for 1 hour before serving. It is a perfect picnic dish because nothing will spoil. Have a great weekend!

IMG_6580

TOMATO BASIL BEAN SALAD
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1 – 16 oz. can white beans, drained & rinsed
1 med. red onion, finely diced
1/4 c. fresh basil, finely chopped or chiffonade
3-4 c. fresh cherry tomatoes, halved*
1/2 c. mozerralla cheese, small diced or shredded**
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 c. olive oil
2-3 Tb. balsamic vinegar

Gently combine all ingredients. Chill, garnish with fresh basil (opt) & serve.  Makes 8-10 side dish servings.

* I used a combination of three types of small tomatoes including yellow pear which gave great color and flavor but is not necessary.
** Since I used everything that I already had on hand, I used shredded Italian Blend cheese.  I would have prefered to use a fresh mozzerella or a block of mozzerella cubed.

Off The Shelf: July Magazines

Here it is time for another edition of monthly cooking magazines! We hope you enjoy!

Cooking Light (Heather) – this is a big, beautiful summer issue but I found it sad that the only thing that really grabbed me, after several perusals, was the Greek Yogurt Parfaits. There is an attractive article on main dish salads, but they all seemed exotic except for the Southwestern Cobb Salad. I did find the melon and ketchup articles helpful but found many of the other summer recipes to be things I may never attempt (filet mignon, striped bass, shrimp salad).

I will say that the article on fruit cobblers looked amazing! Blueberry-Peach Cobbler, Plum Cobbler, and Blackberry Cobbler sound like perfect desserts for summer evenings.

If you are interested in alternative burgers you will love their Lamb Burger, Poblano Beef Burger, Salmon Burger, Turkey Burger, and Brisket Burger. There are also articles on a Sydney Beach BBQ and Food in Singapore.

My take: If you are into gourmet grilling and lots of seafood this is a great issue for you.

We tried the Greek Yogurt Parfaits with wheat berries and the result was a lovely, nutritious (and festive) breakfast.

GREEK YOGURT PARFAITS
(Cooking Light, July 2010)
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1 cup uncooked grano (or wheat berries, brown rice or barley)
12 cups water, divided
1/4 cup orange blossom honey (I used local honey)
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
4 cups plain 2% Greek-style yogurt (I strained 6 cups plain yogurt through cheesecloth for an hour or so to thicken it)
2 cups fresh berries (such as blackberries, blueberries, or sliced strawberries)

Soak grano in 6 cups water overnight. Drain. Place in a medium saucepan with remaining 6 cups water over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until grano is just tender. Drain well. Stir in honey and salt.

Spoon 1/4 cup yogurt into each of 8 parfait glasses. Top yogurt with 3 Tbsp. grano and 2 Tbsp. berries. Repeat layers with the remaining ingredients.

Serves 8.

Everyday Food (Heather) — This issue is a devoted to summer fun and food and I found it very inspiring. You will find an article on wax beans, recipes for potato salad, picnic sides, beautiful summer drinks, summer roll how-to’s, main dish salads, grilled pizzas (my new fascination), an amazing array of burgers, dinners on the grill (complete with desserts), uses for tomatoes and cucumbers, and cool fruit desserts.

I’ll be keeping this issue close by for future summer inspiration.

At first glance I thought the Antipasti Sandwich was too complicated for my budget, but when I realized I could create a cheap date for my husband and I by making this, I didn’t have to think twice. It was so delicious! Of course a big part of making a good sandwich is finding good bread and I just happened to luck out on that one. So, if you try this sandwich, be sure to look for a loaf that will do the recipe justice.

ANTIPASTI SANDWICH
(Everyday Food, July/August 2010)
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coarse salt and pepper
1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise
1 red bell pepper
1 loaf crusty bread (about 1 pound), sliced in half lengthwise
1 can (15.5 ounces) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained (or garbanzo)
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 pound mortadella, prosciutto, or thinly sliced deli ham
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
1 cup marinated artichoke hearts, drained and quartered or sliced
1/2 cup shaved Parmesan (1 ounce)
1/2 cup pepperoncini, drained and halved if large

Sprinkle a double layer of paper towels with salt and place zucchini on top. Sprinkle with salt and roll up like a newspaper. Let sit 10 minutes to draw out excess liquid.

Over a low gas flame or under the broiler, roast bell pepper until skin is charred, 10 minutes, turning frequently. Place in a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let sit 10 minutes. Rub bell pepper with a paper towel to remove skin, then core, discard seeds, and slice fresh into strips.

Pull out about 2 cups bread from inside loaf halves. In a food processor, combine beans, garlic, lemon juice, and oil and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Completely cover inside of both bread halves with an even layer of bean puree.

Arrange zucchini on bottom half of bread. Top with meat, parsley, roasted pepper, artichokes, Parmesan, and pepperoncini. Sandwich with top half of bread and wrap tightly in plastic. Place on a baking sheet in refrigerator. Place another baking sheet on top and weight with several heavy cans. Let sit at least 3 hours (or up to overnight). To serve, unwrap and cut into wedges with a serrated knife.

Serves 6 to 8. (My sandwich served almost 3)

Bon Appetit (Alaina) – What a wonderful issue filled with delicious looking photos and recipes. There were many dishes that are perfect for summer entertaining and grilling – there is a whole grilling section! There are a few versatile sauce recipes which looked so good. There is also a fantastic drink and dessert sections – the dishes look absolutely wonderful.

After perusing the issue and looking at the lovely pictures, I decided to make the grilled corn. It was excellent except for the fact that the corn I purchased was rather disappointing. I have yet to enjoy a truly excellent ear of corn this summer and to be fair, it’s a bit early for it. But the butter on this was simple to make and the flavor was delightful!

GRILLED CORN with HONEY-ANCHO CHILE BUTTER
(Bon Appetit, July 2010)
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8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
1 tablespoon ancho chile powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic or garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
8 ears of corn, husked

Ingredient Tip: Ancho chile powder is available in the spice section of many supermarkets and at Latin markets.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in small skillet over medium-low heat. Add chile powder and cumin; stir 10 seconds. Transfer to medium bowl; stir in honey and cool.

Add oregano, coarse salt, granulated garlic, onion powder, and 6 tablespoons butter to butter mixture. Mix until smooth. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover; chill. Bring to room temperature.

Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Grill corn until charred in spots, turning often, about 13 minutes. Transfer corn to platter. Serve with honey-ancho butter.

Food Network Magazine (Alaina) – Well, I already gave you a coleslaw recipe yesterday from this inspiring issue. The pull-out was for different kabobs and they have great ideas! I’m looking forward to using a couple of the kabob recipes for a family dinner later this month. The magazine features many summer drinks, great grilling and cook-out recipes, a variety of side dishes, and a delightful collection of desserts.

 One section was especially intriguing – 30 ideas for serving hotdogs. And so, the recipe I chose came from there. I was so surprised at how truly wonderful this recipe came out – the tomato and basil with the hotdogs provided an excellent flavor combination. And I’m excited to try some the other great ideas! [On a side note, I purchase hotdogs at Costco that are nitrite/nitrate-free, msg free, and are all beef hotdogs. They are very good, fairly affordable, and I feel okay about serving them to my family! ]

BRUSCHETTA HOTDOGS
(Food Network Magazine July/August 2010)
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Toss 2 diced tomatoes with 1 chopped garlic clove, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons olive oil, some torn basil and salt. Serve grilled hot dogs on toasted Italian buns; top with the tomato mixture and drizzle with olive oil.

Simple Suppers: Rice and Beans

Many of you know from my profile that I am not a huge fan of legumes. In fact, there are only a few types that I actually enjoy eating, namely red lentils and black beans. During the early days of the recent Haiti crisis I decided to make rice and beans for the children to experience something of what the normal diet is in Haiti. Without realizing it, I discovered a simple supper or lunch that was easy to make and really delicious. We’ve eaten it numerous times since.

BLACK BEANS AND RICE
(Heather)
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2 cans black beans
1 cup salsa
1-2 tsp. cumin

to serve:
cooked brown rice
grated cheese

Get the rice started — I use a rice cooker which means I just throw in rice and water, turn on the cooker and leave it until we are ready to eat.

Dump the beans and salsa into a saucepan. Add cumin to taste and heat through.

Serve over cooked rice with grated cheese on top. If you want to get fancy you can add other toppings such as chopped tomato, chopped onion, sour-cream, chopped avocado, shopped cucumber, shredded lettuce, or sliced black olives.

Serves 4-6.

Simple Supper: Bean Soup

Our family likes to eat vegetarian at least once or twice a week and beans are one of the ways that we do that. They offer great nutrition and are filling! Here is a bean soup that we all enjoyed and it was great as leftovers!

A VERY BIG POT OF BEAN SOUP (you can 1/2 this if you prefer less but it really does make great leftovers!)
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4 c. dried beans (I used a mix)
1/2 c. rice
4 quarts water
1 Tb. salt
1 tsp. pepper
2 med. onions, diced
2 c. carrots, diced
1 c. celery, diced, opt.
1/4 tsp chili powder
2 cans (15 oz. each) diced tomatoes
2 clove garlic, minced
3 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp. baking soda 
Parmesan Cheese, opt.

Rinse the beans and place in a pot. Cover with water and soak overnight. Or for a quick soak – bring the pot of water to a boil, turn it off and let the beans soak for 1 hour. Drain and follow the recipes below.

Drain the beans and add the rice, water, salt, and pepper. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 1-1/2 hours until the beans are tender.

Add onions, carrots, celery, chili powder, tomatoes, garlic, lemon juice, and baking soda (soup will foam with the addition of the soda). Simmer 30 minutes more, stirring occasionally or until vegetable are tender. Serve topped with freshly grated parmesan cheese if desired.