Sunday, October 30, 2005

Garlicky White Bean & Shrimp Soup


The seasons are changing, finally, and the onset of autumn brings with it opportunities to audition new recipes of the body-warming variety, including hearty soups and stews. Though the current temperature is around 72F (this is as good as it gets this time of year in Houston), for the past week nighttime and early-morning temperatures have dipped as low as 40F, and this trend is expected to continue for at least another week. Summers here are quite long and somewhat brutal, so I jumped at the chance to take advantage of this wonderfully crisp, cool weather by making a savory soup to lessen the chill a bit.

My choice was a wonderful bean-based soup that I adapted from a recipe of another of my favourite chefs. Unfortunately, I overcooked the beans a bit (overcooking things seems to be a recurring theme lately) so I really had to wing it, far beyond my original intent. Luckily, all turned out well.

Garlicky White Bean & Shrimp Soup
I thought of serving this soup with croutons or crusty bread. I had neither on hand, so I topped it with cilantro and crispy fried onions. Wonderful! But in the back of my mind I couldn't help thinking that Lidia would probably fall out in the floor and kick if she knew that I used cilantro with her authentic Italian soup. Oh well, oh well. I like cilantro and it made this already-delicious soup taste even better. She'll get over it.

Okay, let's get it goin'. Here’s what I did.

Garlicky White Bean and Shrimp Soup
Source: Adapted from Lidia’s Family Table (Lidia Bastianich), p. 58.

Ingredients:
1 pound (about 2 1/2 cups) dry small white beans soaked overnight
3 quarts cold water, plus more if needed
1 1/2 pounds fresh large shrimp, shelled, deveined, tails in tact
5 hot Italian sausages (sweet or mild if you can’t take the heat)
3 large zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
2 cans Italian style diced tomatoes
6 fresh bay leaves or 3 dry
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, preferably cold pressed, plus 2 tablespoons
2 teaspoons salt or more if desired
8 large garlic cloves, sliced
1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground if possible
1 bunch fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped (optional)

Utensils:
Large soup/stock pot, 3-quart or larger
Large nonstick skillet, 12-inch if possible

Method:
Drain the soaked beans and put them in the pot with the water, bay leaves, 1/4 cup olive oil and salt. Saute 1/2 of the onions in 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat for about 3 min. and add to the pot. Cover pot, bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. When pot is at a full boil, reduce to low heat for a steady gentle boil and cook for an hour more or until beans are slightly tender, but DO NOT overcook. They will continue to simmer for a bit longer after the other ingredients are added to them, and you don’t want them to turn out mushy like mine did.

While beans are cooking, remove the casing from the sausage and cook in skillet over medium heat, breaking into crumbles as they cook. Cook until they are done, approximately 20 min., but do not overcook. When just done, add them to the beans.

In the same skillet (don’t clean it out) add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and saute the garlic over medium heat until lightly golden, about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Add the other half of the onions and cook for about 3 min. more. Now add the garlic and onions to the beans, along with the tomatoes, zucchini and shrimp. Correct seasoning if needed and simmer over low heat for about 30 min. That’s it.

Note: I really don’t know exactly how long I cooked the beans on their own, as I lost track of time surfing the Web. I do know that it was for at least two hours before I added the other ingredients, and that’s way too long. To compensate, I immediately removed the beans from the heat to cool and cooked the remaining ingredients separately beforing adding them to the beans. Total cooking time for this soup (from dry beans to finish) should be about 1 hour 30 min., but not longer than a 2 hours.

Keep in mind that this is the first time I’ve actually written out such a detailed recipe, so use it only as a guide. Sadly, while tracing my steps and typing this recipe, I realised how much I HATE doing this. I like to just cook and be done with it, but I do understand that this is a necessary evil. Hopefully, I’ll get better in time.

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6 Comments:

At Tuesday, November 01, 2005 1:31:00 PM, Anonymous MICKEY MCCLESKEY said...

Damn that looks good why you tryin to hurt a brother.
HAM

 
At Tuesday, November 01, 2005 1:34:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm loving this site with all the knowledge you 're putting on here I might become a decent cook after all.
HAM

 
At Tuesday, November 01, 2005 1:40:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

YOU'VE TRULY OUTDONE YOURSELF WITH THIS SITE. I GIVE YOU YOUR PROPS DIAMOND DIVA. KEEP IT COMING AND I PROMISE I WILL BE COMING TO THE SITE OFTEN.

HAM

 
At Thursday, November 03, 2005 10:42:00 AM, Blogger TJ said...

This is a great and wonderful blog. I'll be adding this to my foodie blogs. I like wine a lot, too.

 
At Thursday, November 03, 2005 11:30:00 PM, Anonymous Ms. B. said...

I love what you've done with the place...well worth the wait. Passing the link along to other foodies.

 
At Friday, November 04, 2005 6:38:00 PM, Anonymous Mixed Masala said...

Hey HAM! Thanks for the comments, my friend. I'm doin' my best and I hope to improve as time goes by. I'm sure you'll keep me on my toes!

Hi TJ! Thanks for the visit and comments. I'm so glad you enjoyed your visit. I'm having fun!

Hi Ms. B! Thank you, ma'am. I'm trying to make the best of this temp site until I can get my domain transfer sorted with my host. Glad you approve!

 

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