Wednesday, January 18, 2012
French Cassoulet Style Soup
One of the many "bucket list" areas to travel for me is the country of France. Yes, I would like to lounge by the sea while gazing at the distant fields of sunflowers and vineyards. Or stroll along the Seine river in Paris only to sit at a bistro sipping thick hot chocolate or a crusty warm baguette smeared with chocolate! Then there is the Burgundy region and the Dijon area where, I'm told, gastronomic excellence resides. It all sounds great to me, a person of French heritage.
A trip back to the "homeland" would surely have to include the western shore and the seaside city of La Rochelle, where my ancestors left for the freedoms of North America. South of this area is the Languedoc area with the similarities of Provence, but more quaint. The cuisine has hearty peasant foods like the thick cassoulet style soup I made the other evening. I guess you could say I'm practicing all these French inspired dishes, albeit this soup has Roman influences.
The white (Northern) beans I used were of the dry variety. I used the quick pretreated method: Put one cup of beans into a pot (after inspecting for debris, etc) Pour 3 cups of water and bring to a boil cooking for about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and cover and let them sit for at least 3 hours. Or you can soak them overnight without boiling. Or you can always used well drained and rinsed canned variety.
The sausage I used was Italian chicken links which I precooked beforehand. The acorn squash I microwaved in a glass dish with a small amount of water until done. (about 5-6 minutes) Then I assembled it all to cook.
1 cup dried white beans (pretreated, yielded about 1 1/2 cups cooked)
1 acorn squash cooked and cut into cubes
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Italian sausages, precooked
1/2 tsp dried sage
1 handful fresh parsley, chopped
2 cups, loosely packed spinach, chopped
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
Start with the oil and saute the onion in a large soup pot. Add the squash and garlic, stirring as you go. Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to a boil and reduce to simmer, covered for at least 2 hours. Mixture will be thick, you can add more water or broth if the liquid evaporates too much. Serve with a salad or crusty French bread! Also, great leftover.