First -- Make the Soup
Remove stalks and fronds, discard. Slice bottom from bulb and cut in half top to bottom. Remove the core. It looks like a triangle in the center. Slice bulb to 1/4 inch thickness.
Peel and slice to 1/4 inch thickness.
- 1 large garlic clove minced
Set aside all vegetables.
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
In a deep soup pot over medium high, heat until the oil begins to ripple.
- 3/4 lb sweet Italian sausage in casing
Add to soup pot and brown on all sides. This will take about 10 minutes. When browned remove from pot and set aside. Lower heat to medium, add fennel and onion to soup pot. Saute for no more than 10 minutes. While the vegetables are sauting, slice the sausage into 1 inch pieces. When the vegetables become translucent, add garlic and saute another minute.
- 1/8 cup pernod (optional)
Add to soup pot and saute for 2 more minutes. Return sausage pieces and drippings to soup pot and stir.
- 1 15 oz can Great Northern White Beans
Drain, rinse, pour out in a single layer onto a paper towel and pat dry.
- 1 15 oz can Canellini Beans
Drain but do not rinse.
- 1 32 oz container chicken stock
Add beans and chicken stock to soup pot and stir. Bring to a boil, immediately reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes.
- 10 -12 baby yukon gold potatoes
Scrub and cut into quarters. Add to soup pot and simmer for 10 minutes.
Discard the outer torn and bruised leaves. You must thoroughly rinse each leaf individually to remove the grit or you will ruin the soup. Shake the large dark green leaves dry. Slice them lenghtwise into strips and add to the soup pot. Simmer for 5 minutes.
Rinse and spin dry 15- 20 basil leaves. Stack and roll them (like you roll a sleeping bag). Slice into thin strips. This is called a basil chiffonade. Add to soup pot, stir and simmer for 1 minute.
Remove from heat. Allow to cool completely and tranfer to a plastic container to refrigerate.
It's Wednesday, Let's Celebrate!
First (Sue's Approach)
This is how to celebrate a Wednesday. Pour yourself a glass of that Onobay chardonnay or the Montepulciano and heat up your soup.
Place the soup pot on a medium heat. If it starts to boil, reduce heat to a simmer.
While it's heating you can make the salad and bread.
Make your Soup on Sunday!
I told Mimi that this soup just gets better day after day and I meant it. Don't be afraid to make it three days in advance, refrigerated it will not spoil. It gets a little thicker and all the flavors marry. Also, what could be better than not having to cook at all in the middle of the week. Just open that bottle of wine, put the soup on the stove and relax.
..or three ... YUM!! The flavors will marry and it will be one happy three day marriage.
Second -- Make the Salad Dressing
- 1 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice (1 lemon should yield a tablespoon.)
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tbsp grated parmigiano reggiano
Vigorously shake until it takes on a creamy appearance.
Right Before you Serve your Soup
Slice the loaf of Italian bread lengthwise. Brush with extra virgin olive oil. Liberally sprinkle with granulated (powdered) garlic and then liberally sprinkle with grated parmigiano reggiano cheese. Place on a baking sheet under the broiler until toasty brown. Watch it though! It can burn very quickly.
Toss the reserved escarole leaves with your salad dressing and serve everything together. Keep it casual and homey.
Section 3 blood oranges and arrange in circles around a white plate (if you have one). Very lightly drizzle with honey and place a few sprigs of mint in the center. This will be a light refreshing complement to a hearty meal.
Look at how beautiful that blood orange is. If you just section it, you won't see all that beautiful color. You will see the pith, which is white. Here's what you should do. Peel the orange with a paring knife. Then cut 1/4 inch slices crosswise ( like it's cut in the picture). Arrange on the plate, drizzle with honey and garnish with mint. Much prettier.
Yes much prettier. It's not going to taste any better though.
Everyday Divas Celebrations
with Mimi and Sue
What to Eat Wednesdays
Greens for the Salad
Take the light green and yellow leaves of the head of escarole and thoroughly spin them dry for the salad. If you have to store the leaves, wrap them in a length of paper towel, place them in a zip lock plastic bag and refrigerate in the vegetable crisper (It's the bottom drawer -- remember: warm air rises, cold air falls).
I agree with Sue. You could make this soup on Wednesday because it doesn't really take that much time, however, it tastes better if you make it and let it sit for a day or two.
Listen, if you want to make a really great salad dressing forget about whisking ingredients. Shake everything up in any small container you have. I use an empty mustard jar that I saved.