Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Lever House Meal

There are few places I love more than New York; my dream of life in the big city began at age 12 after spending the summer at the Jeoffery Ballet School,  it only increased when Carrie Bradshaw ran down Madison Avenue ten years later.  Though Texas is my home, Jersey relatives and Brooklyn besties allow for frequent opportunities to play New Yorker.  For me, a meal in New York is more than food; it is an opportunity to fantasize a life amidst the amazing energy and unique allure.  Years ago, Mom and Dad treated the husband and I to a meal at the Leaver House.  Not sure if it was the jetway-like entry, the gorgeous bar, or the Martha Stewart sighting, but by the end of the meal I was in love.  Luckily, they have a cookbook.

I'm not usually a fan of restaurant cookbooks, however this particular one has a few recipes fit for a home cook.  This recipe for white bean soup is not only attainable, but a true marriage of comfort food and gourmet cuisine.   Originally created for a local newspaper's request for a one pot meal, this is a hearty yet luxurious soup.  Planned for a family dinner, I began preparations only to realize that I would not finish the dish before the clock struck extra curricular hour. The solution?  Moving it to the crock pot.  Luckily, this worked and the family enjoyed a piece of New York at the Texas table.

White Bean and Chorizo Soup with Poached Farm Egg
Recipe By: Dan Silverman & Joann Cianciulli
Serves 6-8
1 pound dried cannellini beans, picked through and rinsed
Bouquet garni (1 large leek green 4 celery leaves, 2 thyme sprigs, and 1 bay leaf)
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. plus additional to taste
1 pound Palacios chorizo (I used sausage form my local farmer)
2 large Spanish onions finely diced
5 or 6 celery stalks, finely diced
freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 bunches green swiss chard chiffonade (I used rainbow)
6-8 large farm fresh eggs
1 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
1 teaspoon fleur de sel

  1. Put the beans in a large bowl and add cool water to cover by 2 inches.  Soak the beans in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours or over-night. Drain and rinse thoroughly. 
  2. Transfer the beans to a medium stockpot.  Add the bouquet garni and fresh water to just cover, and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and let simmer until tender, about 1 hour.  Periodically, skim the foam that rises to the top.  
  3. When done, the beans should be soft and creamy but not mushy. Season with 1/2 teaspoon of salt only when they are cooked through and tender.  Remove from the heat.  Discard the bouquet garni. Strain the beans from their cooking liquid and reserve the broth.  You should have at least 1 quart of cooking liquid. (I only had 2.5 cups of liquid, and added chicken broth to compensate.) 
  4. Film a large Dutch oven or saucepan with 2 tablespoons of oil and place over medium heat.  Add the sausage and saute for 5 minutes, until the oil is a vibrant red color (but don't over-brown the sausage).  Add the onion and celery, season with salt and pepper. Saute until the vegetables are tender, 10-12 minutes.  Add the reserved beans and stir well to combine, mashing them a bit with the back of a wooden spoon.  Pout in 1 quart of the cooking liquid and bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat and gently simmer for about 20 minutes, skimming any froth that rises to the surface.  
  5. Stir in the swiss chard and continue to cook until the chard has wilted into the soup and is tender, about 10 minutes. 
  6. Meanwhile, fill a wide pot with 3 inches of water, add 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a gentle simmer over medium-high heat.  When the water is just barely bubbling , carefully crack 2 or 3 eggs into it spacing them apart.  Poach for 3 minutes, until just cooked but the yolks are still soft.  Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon to a plate and dab the bottom of the eggs with paper towels to blot dry. Repeat with the remaining eggs.  
  7. Ladle hot soup into warm bowls, place a poached egg on top, and sprinkle the egg with a little paprika and fleur de sel.  Drizzle the soup with a few drops of olive oil.  

After sautéing the vegetables on the stove and combining them with the beans and cooking liquid, I moved my soup to the crock pot.  The soup simmered for about two and half hours on the low heat setting.  Upon my return, I increased the heat setting to high, added the chard and covered for an additional 15 minutes.  Slow cooked gourmet... what more do you want?

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