Tuesday, February 23, 2010

It Doesn't Look Pretty

I hate umbrellas in New York. I think they are misused. Tools to poke and jab, weapons rather than shields, excuses to walk blindly around the streets without a care who you are pushing into a puddle. All manners run straight down into the gutter when those darn city umbrellas open.

Today was a rainy, rainy, windy and wet day. So, in the name of manners and what's right in the world, I decided to don my rain boots and rain jacket, honorably leaving the umbrella at home. I returned tonight dripping, my jeans stuck to my frozen legs, frustratingly cursing both umbrellas, lack of umbrellas, and ultimately cold winter rain itself.

It was indeed a situation only remedied by a big, steaming bowl of hot soup.

Now, as much as I hate umbrellas I'm starting to love...crock pots. If my grumbling hasn't painted a picture of a grumpy old woman in a flannel nightie, then my love for crock pots may have just pushed me over the edge into tapered khakis, bifocals and a walker. But the truth is, when you don't have time to slowly stew veggies in a stock pot, a crock pot is just the thing! As if the morning knew just what the day had in store for my chilly umbrella-less-jean-clad legs, by the drizzle of morning light Russ started a mixture of white beans, split peas, chicken and spices, leaving it to slowly warm, stew and heat up until it sprawled a spicy trail down the hallway, meeting me upon returning home tonight.

And oh, it was delicious. Slightly spiced with curry and cumin, it was thick, stick-to-your-ribs, too-thick-to-be-soup soup. The best kind in my opinion. Really, really delicious. But...well, not so pretty.

I warned you. Not elegant, brightly colored, or classy-looking in any way. But hearty, warm, comforting and just the pairing for an ugly, rainy and not so pretty kind of day.

By the bottom of the bowl, my legs had warmed, my belly was full and my distaste for umbrellas had changed to the taste of shallots and beans, thyme and ground pepper. And you know, as I've mentioned before, one of the best qualities of soup is that it's just soup. Flavorful and at times deceivingly simple, it comes without bells and whistles. Just a bowl and a spoon. And bite by bite it warms you up, whittling away wet worries from the day.

Chance of rain? Umbrella or not, no matter how old or grumpy, and appearances aside, this little soup is just the thing to turn an ugly day into something lovely and tasty and in it's own simple soup-like way, sort of beautiful.

Split Pea and White Bean Soup with Chicken

1 pound green split peas
1 pound dry cannellini beans
2 large shallots, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 pound chicken thighs, skinless, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
30 turns of a pepper mill
3 teaspoons kosher salt
2 quarts of vegetable or chicken stock
Asiago cheese for garnish

1. Stir ingredients together in a crock pot.
2. Cook on low for 5 hrs, and on high for 2 hrs, stirring occasionally for even cooking.
3. Serve! If you prefer a thinner soup, stir in a light white wine to achieve desired consistency.

Yield: 8 warm-you-up servings


Kimara@weefolkart said...

I am a huge fan of soups and often sing their praises. When I first meet Tim, he said he seldom ate soup... soup wasn't a meal. Didn't take long to convince him that he was clueless! And although I don't use crock pots often, since I'm home during the day, soups hold up well to the long hours of a crock pot. And, btw... I thought your soup looked "hearty and handsome" :)

Danger Kitten said...

I ate your cake today! That's right, I work with Sam and she brought in some leftovers--lucky us! Only I didn't know at first she was the one who brought it in. My first thought as I ate a bite was, "Hmm, I didn't know New Haven had a bakery this good." My second thought was, "Wow, this is cake is really good. It's professional! The icing is real buttercream, and is made with vanilla beans. Where the heck did it come from? It's so rare to find quality like this." Baffled, I promised myself I'd figure out who brought it in and where it came from. A little while later Sam walked in and marveled at how it was all gone already, and I figured out my answer. Thanks for the amazing afternoon pick-me-up!! Hope the photo shoot went well; I can't wait to see your website!