Merrill's daughter Clara has quite the appetite -- and it's all Merrill can do to keep up. Armed with her greenmarket bag, a wooden spoon and a minimal amount of fuss, she steps into the fray.
Today: Beans full of flavor that will also help you clean out your crisper drawer.
If you're like me, you get stuck in bean ruts. I make them every week during the colder months because Clara loves them, and so that she doesn't get all her protein from braises and meat-centric pasta sauces. I lean hard on a couple of tried and true recipes, like this soup, and rarely find myself coloring outside of the lines.
Another of our favorites is this lentil soup recipe, which I've made with all manner of legumes. The last time I decided to make it, I opened the crisper drawer to find one sad looking carrot and a couple of limp stalks of celery, with their leaves. I had no onions -- just two scallions, some garlic, and a small bag of shallots. Rather than abort the mission completely, I decided to go rogue.
I threw all of the random bits and nubs in the pot with the beans, cutting them into large rustic chunks instead of a precise dice, and adding some herbs and the rind of a piece of Parmesan that was at its bitter end. Once the beans had softened and plumped, they had absorbed all the flavors of my motley crew of aromatics, and it took all of a minute to scoop out the carrot chunks and herb sprigs.
Maximum flavor, minimal fuss, and a cleaner fridge to boot.
1 pound white beans, rinsed and drained
3 cups chicken stock (homemade or low sodium)
2 medium shallots, halved and peeled
4 fat cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 stalk of celery, preferably with its leaves, cut into 3-inch lengths
1 large carrot, peeled and halved
2 scallions or spring onions
1 sprig thyme
1 sprig rosemary
2 tablespoons good olive oil, plus more for serving
Parmesan rind (optional but recommended)
1 cup canned chopped tomatoes
Grated Parmesan for serving
Photos by James Ransom