Saturday, 10 December 2011

First Day of School!!!!!

I thought I would begin today's blog in the morning.  First of all, we have an altitude issue.  Dehydration, 2 hour beans, crunchy rice and a frozen lid on a pot of soup.  Let me explain:  We are living at 4,000 feet and there is a difference from our damp cold winters in Ontario.  Here it is dry, shriveled up dried fruit dry.  You wake up in the morning and your hair is standing on end with static.  Your eyes are glued shut and your tongue is stuck to the roof of your mouth from the night, despite a large glass of water before bedtime and a glass at bedside. No costume needed.  It would probably help if you actually woke up to drink that glass of water.  Cooking beans:   It takes an overnight soak and 1 hour boil in Ontario.  Here at 4,000 feet 2 day soak and almost a three hour boil.  The beans were the main ingredient of White Bean and Fennel Sausage soup (which won me first place in Soupfest)  Now the rice,  Crunchy rice.  It also cooked and cooked and crunch... Add more water.....again, more water.   The water is being sucked into the atmosphere faster than the rice!  Now, this morning.....The frozen pot on the balconey.  Well, that pot of soup I made last evening, went on the balconey to chill.  Chill is an understatement.  Frozen.  Oven mitts have a new meaning.  At -13 c it would be like sticking your tongue on a frozen lamp posts.  On went the oven mitts to carry in the pot of soup.  We have our own cast iron pots from home and the lid is frozen shut.   Back on the stove and hope it will be thawed for lunch.
  As for now, time to get dressed, and;
Back to school..........Morning lesson:  "finding the sweet spot"

 White Bean and Fennel Sausage Soup
1 pound dried white beans or Great Northern Beans (2 cups)
8 cups water
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
3 garlic cloves:  1 smashed, 2 chopped
1 large fresh rosemary sprig
11 bay leaf
1 large onion, coarsely chopped (2 cups)
1 large carrot, coarsely chopped (1cup)
1 large celery stalk, coarsely chopped (3/4 cup)
2 1/2 tsp. finely chopped fresh thyme, divided
4 cups chicken broth
1 pound Gary Teal’s fennel sausage (bulk, or casing removed)
1/4 cup whipping cream

Soak beans in water overnight. Drain and rinse beans.  Add 8 cups water, 1 tbsp. oil, smashed garlic, rosemary and bay leaf.  Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until beans are just ender.
Season to taste with salt.  Cool slightly, cover and chill.
Drain beans, reserving cooking liquid and discard rosemary and bay leaf.
Heat remaining olive oil over medium heat.  Add onion, carrot, and celery.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Sauté until vegetables are beginning to soften,.  Add chopped garlic and 1 tsp. thyme.  Sauté another 2 minutes.  Add 2 cups reserved bean liquid, 4 cups chicken broth and beans.  Bring to a boil. reduce heat and simmer uncovered until vegetables are tender. about 25 minutes.  Cool soup 10 minutes.
Sauté fennel sausage over medium high until cooked throughout.  Bead up any lumps with back of spoon.  Drain on paper towels.
Remove 1 1/2 cups bean mixture from soup.  Reserve.  Purée remaining soup in blender until smooth.  Return puree to pot.  Stir n reserved whole bean mixture, remaining 1 1/2 tsp. thyme, fennel sausage and cream.  Can be made 1 day ahead.  Chill uncovered until cold.  Cover and keep chilled.
Rewarm soup over medium heat, thinning with more broth if desired.  Season with salt and pepper. 

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