We both ended up with too much computer-related work to do today, so we didn't really get a chance to have any fun. We went out this morning for our traditional Sunday morning brunch at Agate Pass Cafe, which was delicious as always; thanks guys! But then—boring us—we had to return to the Airstream to work ... how dull.
When it was coming up on suppertime, I realized that we would need to eat again but that neither of us had the time or energy to get up and go out. I poked around and discovered that the unit of rapini I had bought last week was still perfectly fine (thank the gods for hearty greenery), and I had all the requirements for a nice beans-and-greens style soup. So that's what I made, and what we ate with a few slices of buttered toast between projects.
- Olive oil
- Red onion
- Paprika, oregano, chili powder, salt, black pepper
- Great northern beans
- Vegetable broth
- (Goast pepper salt: optional)
As with just about everything savory that I make, this soup started with garlic and onion cooked in olive oil. I prefer the slight sweetness of red onions, and they are typically quite large, so one usually takes care of a large pot of something, and the one I had on-hand was in fact enormous (I'd probably have used two or three yellow onions for this amount of soup).
I cut the onion into little squares (ultimately a good size for sliding into a spoon when eating soup) but you could cut it in whatever way that floats your own particular type of boat, and it would be perfectly fine.
Dump an amount (a quarter cup or so?) of olive oil in a warming soup pot. I particularly love my large enameled-cast-iron Le Creuset for all things soup and stew, and really, for just about anything else too.
When we moved into the Airstream I had to choose which few pots and pans were going to travel with us, which were going to get stored for the long term, and determine those that could be donated or gifted off to others. My Le Creuset was probably the first cooking item that I carried from our house at the time, across the yard, and up into the awaiting Airstream. It was never a question if it was going to join us on our journey, it was simply a matter of where to store it while we travelled. The answer: it lives in the oven next to a large jug of emergency drinking water. When we haul, it gets moved onto the bed so that the rack in the oven doesn't receive any undue stress (probably totally unnecessary but I am a girl replete with habits, both good and bad).
Toss the oniony squares into the warm olive oil over medium heat and cook until semi-translucent or maybe hinting towards caramelizing ... give them a stir every few minutes so they don't get a chance to burn.
Next, peel five or six cloves of garlic (or more or less). Chop, dice, or slice them into uniform size. I got out my mini-mandoline to complete the task. I love this contraption. I've used mine hundreds and hundreds of times over the past decade and it's *still* sharp. I'd recommend one for anyone who uses garlic a lot. Super simple to clean, too!
I had this one minute:
And this the next:
Scrape all of that atop of the onions in the pan and then add your seasonings/spices. I added a half-handful of oregano (maybe two or three tablespoons?) and some chili powder (another tablespoon at least, but we like things on the spicy side). Then, I chose two kinds of paprika: an alder smoked poblano paprika (one star of hotness), and a hot alder smoked paprika (seven stars of fiery goodness). We love the spice, and we have found that the combination of these two particular paprikas provides an absolutely fantastic flavor. We get these directly from Charlie at the Port Townsend Farmers' Market in Washington state, but you can also order online at https://www.aldersmoked.com.
Give that all a stir and turn the heat down to medium-low so that the spices get a chance to cook but not stick or burn. If you are in an Airstream, make sure those exhaust fans are running, or your husband will go running (although mine loves the spice in his mouth, we learned early on in our relationship that he doesn't so much like it in his eyes).
Next, grab a colander. Mine is stored in my nifty pull-out kitchen compartment. Everything nests together perfectly—and it's predominantly stainless—so that I don't have to think about repacking when we travel. Yay! Also, when we moved into the Airstream I decided to use what we already owned instead of buying all new stuff. As it turned out, I purchased almost no new kitchen items whatsoever (we did splurge on a new set of dishes but they were from IKEA so they were inexpensive, and they match our counters perfectly!). I even got to bring my stackable Thai stainless steel "lunchboxes" which will make our friends Hutch and Pia happy (Hi Hutch and Pia!).
I used to always buy dried beans in bulk and soak them overnight before throwing them in my beloved slow-cooker, but now that we live in the Airstream, I am extra-conscious about both moisture and water consumption. So, I often have canned beans on-hand. And the same goes for stocks—I used to make them myself but now I find the ease of boxed broths rather seductive. I had these waiting for me in the kitchen cabinet:
Open two cans into that colander and rinse. How easy was that!?!
And no, you needn't rinse your canned beans, I just always seem to. I guess I like things to be extra-super clean (?).
Here the Badger helps me by pouring the beans into the nicely prepared onion/garlic/spice mix.
Stir gently so as to not break the beans up too much.
I like to let the (sometimes a bit bland) beans rest in the onion mixture while I cook the greens so that the beans absorb as much of the flavor as possible before being added back into the soup. So, I poured everything into a big bowl to let it sit ...
Next, I got out the rapini (also called broccoli rabe) and got to washing and chopping.
Note that rapini is a somewhat bitter green. If it's too bitter for you, add a few tablespoons of maple syrup to the soup at the end to sweeten it up, or honey ... no, really, it works wonders!
I chopped the bottom few inches off of this particular batch of rapini to avoid the more woody ends, and then threw it all in my big sink to clean. Rapini tends to be very clean so it's an easy step.
Chop up the rapini and put it in the now-empty pot. No, don't bother washing the pot out. (I guess some things don't need to be extra-clean all the time?)
A whole unit of rapini is A LOT of greens. It fills my blue pot up about half-way.
Turn the heat back on to medium and add a whole box of broth. Put the cover on and let the greens simmer away until you feel like they are done. I am lucky in that I have a taste-testing Badger onboard—you may need to taste your own greens for doneness.
One of the facts about living in an Airstream—or in any small space—is that dishes can get the better of you if you aren't careful. I try to use as few as possible, and whenever I get a chance, I wash, dry, and put away what's not going to be needed again. He's what I washed while the greens cooked.
I have a trusty microfiber dish drying mat that comes in very handy on a daily basis. And when I do the laundry, I just add it into the mix so it is always clean. Here it is in action:
Check on the simmering greens and stock ... have husband burn mouth testing them. Twice.
Once the greens are cooked through, add the bean and onion mixture back into the pot, add some salt and pepper, and give it a gentle stir.
You'll end up with something that looks like this.
Then, of course, it's time for another taste test. Badger informed me that it still wasn't spicy enough so he added some ghost pepper salt. An eighth of a teaspoon was enough to liven up the whole pot. Here he is with the salt—he says we are running low. By the way, it's an amazing addition to popcorn!
We had some bread left over from a decadent salmon-sandwich-night last week so we made toast to serve with the soup. Here it were:
And then it was all gone:
Time to do the dishes again ...