Cranberry bean and kale soup with anchovy crust – 4 January 2017

main170104It was rainy and miserable looking out, and rather cold (for here) so I wanted to make a soup. Went through my list of soups we have made and D wanted to do this one, despite the difficulty of putting it all together. Ultimately, the final portion of the prep (after the beans were cooking) took about 3 hours, plus time for mistakes to be corrected. Fortunately, it’s a really good soup, though I don’t think this was as excellent as I remembered.


Checking the cranberry beans for unwanted intrusions

The parts of the story: sort, wash, pre-soak and then drain and cook 1 cup cranberry beans (or other large, meaty beans) in 8 cups water. I used 2 tsp salt during the cooking, and that worked really well.

Cooked cranberry beans

Cooked cranberry beans

They cooked at least an hour, but I didn’t check exactly. Definitely not the 2-3 hours the recipe suggests. Keep 3/4 of the liquid (I kept 4 of the  cups and yes I know that is not 3/4), mash about 1/4 of the beans to thicken the liquid (I did not mash well) and save the thickened (or not) liquid and beans (may as well put together).



Stem, wash, and chop (about 1″ – 1.5′ square) 2 bunches of dino kale. Each bunch was nine-plus ounces as bought. One was 2 dozenish small stems, the other one dozen large ones. The large are a lot easier to stem (fewer) and clean, but are more likely to have damaged bits. Buy large ones. Cook these in 6 cups chicken broth/stock (one large can Swanson’s). Recipe says 45 minutes, which is nuts. 20 mins is probably too much. These sit till added (together) later.

setting170104Saute 1/4 cup chopped onion, 4 cloves chopped garlic, and 2 slices bacon (Niman Ranch applewood smoked), diced (this is easier before it completely defrosts) “a few” minutes – about 4 – then add the beans in thickened (or not) liquid, the kale in chicken stock, two potatoes (used Yukon Golds), diced, and a bouquet of a couple sprigs each of thyme and parsley (challenging – got some teeny parsleys – more than two – from the crack in the cement patio…), bring to a boil and then simmer, covered, 20-25 minutes.

Dough is 2 cups flour, 1 Tbsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp* salt, mixed, then 1/3 cup butter (or other solid shortening) cut in till like cornmeal. Mix in 1/4 cup chopped thyme leaves (this TOOK AN HOUR [D did it – thank you!]) and one 2-0z can oil-packed anchovy fillets, drained and chopped fine. Dribble in 3/4 cup milk or whatever works (up to 7//8 cup, says rcp) stirring with fork. Knead couple minutes or till nice, let stand  minute or three, then roll out to 1/2″.

main170104-3Realized at this point that our lovely Mary Grabill pottery casserole I was going to use to finish the soup was only 8.5″ in diameter, and the container was supposed to be 11″. Ack! That explains why the dough didn’t cook great last time we did this – too thick. Nothing to cook the soup in! Called up R next door and he kindly emptied a bit of stuff from storage in their fabulous 11″ cast iron frying pan. Moved the soup into that, after rolling out the dough to fit, and… OMG that pan would not fit into the oven I had pre-heated (the smaller one) and the larger one would take a half hour to preheat. So I tried pouring the soup into a 9×13″ Pyrex baking pan (after D quickly did the calculation and showed it should fit); folded the circle of dough in half, stretched a bit to make corners, and re-rolled for the Pyrex dish. So, finally, the soup fit into the pan, and the pan fit into the oven. Whew! Looked odd, a square soup, but what the heck. The crust cooked nicely and the soup was yummy and warm comfort food for a cold day. With leftovers.


wine170104D chose a Barolo we’d gotten at Wine Mine. It wanted breathing, but even after it spent some time in the rolly-decanter, I think (writing this part the 17th!) we were not excited about the wine.




Had a slice from one of R’s fruitcakes for dessert. He did Mom’s recipe just beautifully (no surprise).


Our friend L visited for lunch while waiting to pick up her husband at the airport, and D put together a super-easy pasta from “100 best pasta recipes” by Diane Seed: can of diced tomatoes, a bit of olive oil, salt, pepper, and basil leaves. He made a simple salad with the Romaine in the fridge, carrots and celery, and a vinaigrette.




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