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In The Kitchen: Bean and Chicken Soups

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Epitome of Simple Rainy Day Bean Soup

If you use canned beans, this is the epitome of simple. Dump everything into a pot, bring to a boil, puree and serve. For those who are not vegetarians, of course, smoked pork — or turkey – products could be added before or after pureeing the beans. Chicken soup or beef broth could be used as the liquid. Sour cream could be a garnish at the end.

An interesting variation using canned beans is to use two cans of black beans and follow recipe as written. After puree, rinse and add the alternative beans, i.e., navy, cannellini, red kidney, or chickpeas. This adds a bit of textural interest.

Ingredients:

Vegan black bean puree
2 # black bean (alternatively, 2-3 cans of black beans)
¾ # Equal Proportion Mirepoix
One carrot: large dice
One white onion; large dice
2 ribs celery; one inch pieces
Vegetable Oil
6 cloves fresh garlic, cleaned
32 oz. canned diced or whole tomatoes
½ oz. (1T) cumin
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon cayenne
1.5 gallons water (approximate) additional for initially cooking beans if using dry beans
Garnish: Choose: cilantro, chopped bananas, can of beans, or minced chives

Directions:
1. Cover beans with water in saucepan and bring to gentle boil in unsalted water, about 2-3x water to beans ratio (this helps expel gas in the beans)
2. In the alternative, soak beans overnight in water to reduce cooking time; discard water and use fresh water to boil beans.
3. When beans are soft, drain and discard bean cooking water.
4. If using canned beans, rinse beans under running water and discard can liquid.
5. In clean stock-pot, sweat carrots, onions, celery and garlic in vegetable oil.
6. When onions begin to soften, add tomatoes with Juice. Reduce liquid by half. Comment: this step helps to reduce the acidity in the tomatoes
7. Return beans to pot
8. Tie bay leaves in cheese cloth for easy removal and add to pot.
9. Add cumin, and cayenne and about half the water.
10. Simmer until all vegetables and beans are soft. Taste; adjust salt and pepper.
11. Remove bay leaves, use food processor, blender or wand blender to puree soup, adding second half of water as needed.
12. Taste seasonings; adjust salt and pepper. Garnish as desired.

Will Cure Anything Chicken Soup

This chicken soup is a bit labor intensive because it has three steps. There is a reason for each of the stages: the blanching produces a clear broth; the simmering of the chicken and vegetables allows them to give up all their flavor and nutrients; the final stage is the fun part; for presentation, you add all the wonderful things you like in finished soup such as fresh chicken, noodles, diced vegetables, herbs or even matzoh balls. This flavorful soup is equal to any from your favorite deli or made by your favorite relative. There is not any sniffle or flu bug that can stand up to a good bowl of this soup.

Directions:
Blanching
1. Bring salted water to boil in large (8 quart) soup kettle.
2. Add 2-3# chicken pieces to boiling water: assorted backs, necks, and thighs. Do not use organ meats, i.e., gizzards, liver of hearts. Save breast meat for final soup.
3. Bring blanching water back to the boil.
4. Remove chicken from blanching liquid and rinse in strainer.
5. Wash soup kettle.

Chicken Stock
1. Put rinsed chicken back in kettle.
2. Cover with fresh water to cover by about 2-3 inches
3. Add 2 onions; about 5 carrots; about ½ bunch of celery. More if you have room in the kettle.
4. Add other aromatics: bulb of garlic, 3 walnut size pieces of ginger, 2-3 peppers, depending on heat desired: jalapeno, Thai chiles, habaneros, ancho chiles.
5. Add good handful of salt, pepper corns and 4-5 bay leaves. (Optional: add lemongrass)
6. Bring to slow boil and reduce heat to bubbling simmer. Allow to simmer 4-5 hours, uncovered, until chicken has given all its flavor and vegetables are limp and spent.

Soup
1. Strain chicken, vegetables and aromatics into clean vessel. Wash soup kettle. Discard solids.
2. Return strained liquid to soup kettle; add choices of serving add-ins: cut up fresh (breast meat) chicken, cooked egg noodles, matzoh balls, diced peeled carrots, julienne zucchini, squeeze of lemon juice, sprigs of cilantro, garnish of chives.

Susan Delbert joined The Fourth Estate Restaurant at the National Press Club as Executive Chef after working at The Old Ebbitt Grill in Washington, D.C. as Sous Chef for several years. Delbert has worked in several Washington restaurants, including The Oval Room, BeDuCi in Dupont Circle and Gerard’s Place. She started her culinary career as a Front of the House Maitre d’ in Clyde’s of Chevy Chase. She trained at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., where she graduated at the top of her class. She was an invited participant in an Italian regional cooking program sponsored by the Italian Trade Commission.

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