I’ve told you about my food magazine addiction before and I think I even mentioned the cause of it: it’s a trait I inherited from my parents. This feature of the gene pool was on vivid display during my parents’ visit last weekend, while we sat around the living room lazily sipping coffee and each flipping through the magazines that normally litter my coffee table. My mom had somehow missed the January 2008 issue of Gourmet and I was delighted to call her attention to must-read essays and must-make recipes.
We do the same thing back at their house in Minnesota, only the back issues there hark back to the mid-90s. And the stacks of old magazines are supplemented by shelves full of cookbooks, ranging from spiral-bound recipe booklets published by Lutheran churches to slip-covered, glossy-photoed tomes from the world’s hottest chefs.
(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)
But the most inspiring collection of recipes in my parents’ entire house can always be found in the same place: in a sheaf of tattered pages near the stove, tucked between the knife block and a ceramic crock full of wooden spoons. It’s my mom’s version of a to-cook list and while it’s decidedly lower tech than my own Excel spreadsheet and foldered bookmarks list, it has its own advantages: photos, handwritten notes and proximity to the work space.
When we were in Minnesota for a whole 24 hours for a wedding a couple weekends ago, the recipe for this soup was atop my mom’s stack and the soup itself was simmering nearby in her fire engine red Le Creuset pot. I lifted the heavy lid, revealing a rosy broth brimming with hearty ingredients.
After sampling a quick ladleful, I quickly added the recipe to my own to-cook list. Then, this past Sunday, while my parents were en route back to Minnesota, I pulled out my own Le Creuset, flicked on a flame beneath it and let some diced fennel and pancetta sizzle. A couple minutes later, I streamed in a drizzle of sauvignon blanc and some chicken stock and to this plunked in some cannelini beans and shredded leftover roasted chicken. Finally, I swirled in a pinch each of crushed pepper flakes and smoked paprika and a handful of roughly chopped basil. The fennel and basil lend the soup a faint anise flavor that plays nice with the spice and tomatoes. It’s also incredibly satisfying and filling, what with its three forms of protein (beans, pancetta and chicken). It’s another clear winner from my mom’s soup files.
Italian Turkey (or Chicken), Bean & Tomato Soup
Adapted from Bon Appetit
2 cups chopped fresh fennel
4 ounces sliced pancetta, chopped
1 28-ounce can choppedtomatoes
2 cups homemade or low-sodium chicken broth
1 15-ounce can cannellini (white kidney beans), rinsed, drained
1 1/2 cups roasted chicken or turkey, shredded
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
Sauté fennel and pancetta in heavy large pot over high heat until pancetta starts to brown, about 4 minutes. Add tomatoes. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Mix in broth, beans, shredded turkey or chicken, smoked paprika and crushed red pepper. Simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Mix in basil. Season with salt and pepper.