Between being frightened by the news, and worrying about my vegetable garden being destroyed by Hurricane Irene – the eve of the arrival of the storm was spent with a lot of hand-wringing, pacing and worrying.
My older daughter helped me empty the contents of our covered patio deck into a lovely M.C. Escher -inspired assembly of stubborn patio chairs, precariously balanced over bicycles, a Radio Flyer, and a hodge podge of gardening items methodically stacked inside my ex-car garage-currently-Papa’s-woodworking-man-cave.
We then ran outside to the vegetable garden, and tried to pick as many string beans/yard-long beans and tomatoes before nightfall. My little one spun dizzy circles in the yard, her arms out-stretched and her sundress puffing into little parasol shapes as she sang “Twinkle Twinkle Little Stauw (Star, with Brooklyn accent, thanks to Lala at daycare).” My older daughter grabbed handfuls of beans and cherry tomatoes next to me.
I then hustled everyone back into the house once the rain started falling.
To calm myself, I decided I’ll cook. Let’s call it, “Irene Soup.”
Here are the ingredients:
1 container, Trader Joe’s Hearty vegetable stock
1 lbs dried Cannellini beans, picked over and rinsed
2 large handfuls of string beans pulled from the garden, de-stringed and cut into 1 inch pieces
2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
2 large onions, cut into bite-sized pieces
4 carrots, peeled, and cut into 1/8 inch pieces
4 celery stalks, rinsed, and cut into 1/8 inch pieces
Handful of kale from our garden – probably about 8 medium leaves – julienned across the “rib”
Handful cherry tomatoes from our garden
1 packet Hokuto Bunashimeji mushrooms – rinsed, and the bottom “stalk” part trimmed. The mushrooms were pulled into small clusters.
2 sweet Italian sausages, grilled, and cut into bite-sized pieces. These were left-over from an earlier dinner.
1 Tbs chopped pancetta
1 Tsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Handful of thyme and oregano leaves, pulled off stems
In the bottom of the pressure cooker, set over medium heat, I drizzled the olive oil, and added the pancetta to brown. I then added the onion, carrots and celery until fragrant. I then added the remaining vegetables (kale, beans, tomato and mushrooms) until they softened a little, (kale and beans will get brighter green in color) and then poured in the stock.
I then added the dried beans, and brought everything to a strong simmer, stirring occasionally.
I then added the lid, adjusting the heat (medium) until there was a steady, but not hysterical hissing of steam, and set the stove timer for 45 minutes.
Once the timer rang, I let the pot cool until the pressure lock released the lid, and checked for done-ness. I wasn’t convinced after my original check that the bean soup was done, so I started the pressure cooker again for another 30 minutes. I added the sliced sausage pieces at this point to the soup.
Once the second round of cooking was done, I stirred and garnished the soup with the herbs from my garden.
The resulting soup was velvety, soft, creamy soup, punctuated by the occasional carrot, bean or mushroom. The tomato, kale, celery and potato were “melted” into smaller pieces (or shreds) and I knew this would be a hit with the girls.
Thankfully, we did not lose power, and we did not suffer any property damage during the storm.