Why I Am Posting These Recipes

I believe that it is healthier for an individual and for the planet to reduce the consumption of animal products in the human diet. However, I love to eat all kinds of delicious food, and find it really, really difficult to go totally vegetarian. Also, my family protests if I serve too many vegetarian meals in a row. So I am committed to making an effort to move towards a vegetarian diet without wholly doing so. I will post recipes several times a week that represent my philosophy of eating well, eating healthy, eating local. Most recipes will be easy to prepare, as I have a busy life. So I expect my followers to be people who love to cook and eat well, want to try to help the planet through their eating (by eating local foods and trying to reduce the use of meat in our diets), and have many other things to do each day besides cook.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

White Bean Soup with Wheatberries, Potatoes and Spinach

This soup takes a little time spread over the day to make.  It is easy to make, but you should make it on a day when you are home much of the time.  It is delicious, hearty and a wonderful vegetarian meal to eat on a very cold day.  Pairs well with red wine and good bread, and tastes even better the next day!

When cooking the beans, I used a half onion and dried chipotle pepper to flavor the beans.  I find that the dried chipotle pepper gives the same kind of flavor to beans that a ham hock provides, which is what I used to use before trying to eliminate meat. If you want to make this but don’t have all day, you could use canned beans instead of dried, and cook the soup for a shorter amount of time. 

2 1/2 cups dried white beans, such as Great Northern or Cannelini
1/2 cup wheatberries
Dried chipotle pepper
Half onion
Extra virgin olive oil
3 leeks, sliced in half lengthwise then sliced
3 carrots, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
3 potatoes, such as white, red or yukon gold, diced into 1/4"-1/2" pieces 
Handful fresh sage leaves, chopped
Handful fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
5 garlic cloves, chopped
10 cups vegetable broth (I use water and appropriate amount of vegetable broth concentrate)
3 cups baby spinach leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated Parmesan
Flavored olive oil, such as rosemary infused, for drizzling (optional)

Soak beans overnight in plenty of water (water should be about 3 inches above beans). After soaking, drain water and cook beans in fresh water, about 3 inches above line of beans, with half onion and dried chipotle pepper: bring water to boil, then simmer for about 2 hours or until just soft. Add about a teaspoon of salt after beans have begun to soften but before they are done. (If you add salt at beginning of cooking, beans will not soften). When beans are soft, drain beans and remove onion half and dried pepper. 

Soak wheatberries for 3 or 4 hours before adding to soup.

Meanwhile, sauté leeks in olive oil for several minutes, then add diced carrots, celery, and chopped herbs. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, then stir in chopped garlic and cook for another minute or two. Do not allow garlic to burn. Turn off stove. 

When beans and vegetables are cooked, it is time to combine them in soup pot with potatoes, 10 cups broth, or water and vegetable broth concentrate, and soaked wheatberries. Cover and bring to boil, then reduce heat to simmer and remove cover.  Simmer uncovered for 2-3 hours. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add spinach for last half hour of cooking. When it’s ready, the soup will have thickened from the wheatberries and beans cooking in the broth. To serve, grate Parmesan cheese and drizzle flavored olive oil over servings in bowl. Serves 10-12 as main course.

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