Food Network Magazine (January 2015)
It's that time of year when we look into our pantry and think, "Who in the world bought all this stuff?" You see, our cupboards right now are a bit like the island of misfit toys.
There are six kinds of mustard. Three kinds of anchovies. Seven (!) kinds of nuts. And so. much. orzo. Someone needs a Cupboard Cleanout.
Though we love digging into our cupboard and making a complete meal out of it, we found this week that there are perils to doing that. Sometimes, the stuff in your pantry is just too old.
Case in point? We planned to make this Spanish Chorizo, Kale and Cranberry Bean Soup, a Bobby Flay recipe from the current issue of Food Network Magazine. We thought it sounded delicious, and we were especially happy because it would be a good excuse to use some beans we already had on hand.
We love this soup, but using "vintage" beans was a big mistake.
See, we'd had these beautiful Christmas lima beans from Rancho Gordo sitting in our cabinet, and we thought they'd be delicious in this soup, and a fine swap for the cranberry beans called for in the recipe.
We were glad for the opportunity to use the beans, because they'd been sitting there in our cupboard since ... um, since ... actually, we have no idea when we got them. (But we're sure it's been at least a few years.)
And therein lay the problem.
We soaked the beans overnight, as per the recipe. When it came time to cook the soup, everything worked exactly as it should have. After an hour and a half of simmering, we tasted it. The Christmas limas were rock hard. No big deal; we simmered a while longer.
After simmering for a total of three hours -- twice the cook time in the recipe -- our beans were still nowhere near tender. But it was time for bed. We threw the soup in the fridge and vowed to fight another day.
The next night, we hauled out the big guns: our pressure cooker. After cooking the soup in there for another 45 minutes, we thought surely the beans would be ready for prime time. They weren't. They were edible, but still crunchy and starchy in a very unappealing way.
So let this be a lesson for you: If there's something in your cupboard that you literally can't remember when you purchased it, it's probably time to toss it.
But let us also say this: This soup is very tasty. Other than the beans, it was delicious. The chorizo yields a broth that's super savory and flavorful (especially when you concentrate it by cooking it for four hours!). It's really tasty, and we'd gladly make this soup again.
We'll just buy new beans first.
Total Time: 10 hr
Prep: 15 min | Inactive: 8 hr | Cook: 1 hr 45 min
2 cups dried cranberry or pinto beans, picked through
8 ounces Spanish chorizo, cut into1/4-inch-thick slices
4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 large Spanish onion, finely chopped
1/2 bunch kale (about 8 ounces), stems removed, leaves coarsely chopped
8 cups chicken stock
1 cup dry white wine
Olive oil, for drizzling
Put the beans in a pot and cover with 4 cups water. Cover and set aside at room temperature to soak overnight. Drain.
Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the chorizo and cook until lightly golden brown and the fat has rendered, about 5 minutes. Transfer the chorizo to a paper towel-lined plate with a slotted spoon and pour out all but 2 tablespoons of the rendered fat. (The amount of fat will vary depending on the chorizo that is used. If your chorizo does not render at least 2 tablespoons fat, add some olive oil.)
Add the garlic, carrot, celery and onion to the fat in the pan and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until soft, 8 to 9 minutes. Add the kale and cook until slightly wilted, about 2 minutes. Add the stock, wine and 2 teaspoons salt; cover and bring to a boil.
Add the cranberry beans and cooked chorizo to the saucepan; lower the heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until the beans and kale are soft, about 1 1/2 hours. Ladle the soup into bowls and drizzle with olive oil.