Please don't resent me for trotting out bean recipe after bean recipe. After all, Picasso had his blue period. Isn't it only fair for me to be allowed to go through a bean period? (I am not meaning to imply that I am the Picasso of leftovers, but if you'd like to indulge that association, I will not thwart you.)
|Maybe these people would cheer up if they ate some beans with ham hock.|
Step 2: Pre-cook your pasta. I used half a package of whole wheat elbows. Like me, you will probably want to choose one of the smaller pasta shapes or even the tiny pastina for soup, but I will not stand in your way if you want jumbo shells or even sheets of lasagna floating around in your bowl.
|This imported Italian organic pasta cost only $1.99. The equivalent non-generic brand was $2.99. I was so pleased with myself for saving this buck that I bought a $20 bottle of Moulin-à-Vent as a reward.|
|All ready to be added to the soup|
|Cumin seed, asafetida|
We were a bit taken aback by the strong, sulfurous smell of the asafetida (the word doesn't contain FETID for nothing!), but we immediately fell in love with the flavor. Unfortunately, that original batch was the last pure asafetida I've ever been able to find. All I have run across in the Indian markets in NYC is an adulterated version in which the resin is mixed with a base of cornstarch or some such material. You have to use a lot more of this type to get the same level of flavor, and it really never achieves the same potency as the "real" stuff. Any readers out there know where to obtain pure asafetida?
Step 5: Heat up to a half cup of EV olive oil in a soup pot over a medium-high flame. When the oil is hot, toss in the ground asafetida, which will foam up a bit, and, after a second or two, the cumin seeds.
|Cooking the spices in oil — a flavor-enhancing step I gleaned from Indian cookery.|
Step 7: Add the sliced mushrooms and stir around for a few minutes, until they have uniformly absorbed most of the oil. (The mushrooms' super-absorbency is why you have to use so much oil in this recipe.)
Step 8: Add the leftover beans and the bones from the ham hock. Any meat that remains should be shredded before adding. (We hadn't much meat left by this point, so I was thinking that this would be an almost vegetarian dish. Excepting those big chunks of porcine tibia, of course. Now that I think about it, "almost vegetarian" is about as sensible a phrase as "almost a virgin.")
Step 9: Immediately add the stock, plus enough water to completely cover the bones and everything. I ended up adding the 3 C of stock and maybe 2 additional cups of water. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir well.
Step 10: After the stock comes to a simmer, put the chopped kale in the pot and cover. When the greens wilt enough to stir in, do so, then let the soup simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes. Add the cooked/drained pasta, stir it in, and let it simmer for several more minutes until everything is heated through.
|Just after adding the kale (before wilting)|
I spiced mine up with hot sauce and accompanied by slices of whole grain toast with melted cheese. (The next day — out of hot sauce — we tried a delicious variation: stir a big blob of garlicky hummus into each serving.)
This chocolate-flavored stout — you'd think I would've shrunk at the very idea, but I am a sucker for (almost) all things chocolate — looked pretty in our glasses, but was undrinkably strange. (Peter thought it tasted like flat beer with Bosco.) I switched to a glass of the cloying Orvieto after a valiant few sips of the stout.