Monday, March 26, 2007

Black Magic

One of the things I love most about cooking, is seeing how simple ingredients come together to produce a dish that's greater than the sum of its parts. Sometimes it feels like magic.

This recipe is one I read on Chocolate & Zucchini, truly a wonderful food blog. I can't urge you strongly enough to wander through it some afternoon. You will find at least a dozen things you must try that instant! Really, it's that lovely a site. Green beans and almonds in a soup don't seem a likely combination. But, think of that classic side dish, green beans almondine - really a classic pairing, and quite nice if prepared with care.

This soup is just great and I have lifted the recipe pretty much word for word from Chocolate & Zucchini. I can't recommend it enough, read the original recipe here. You will be amazed by how nicely the flavors come together: the soup won't taste beany, it will just taste fantastic. We had ours tonight with grilled ham and cheese sandwiches (I love my panini press).

Trader Joe's sells almond meal, which is what I used for this dish. You can make your own ground almonds, by pulsing almonds in a food processor until finely ground.

Green Bean and Almond Soup (a la Rose Bakery, a la Chocolate & Zucchini)

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onions, peeled and chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • A pound of green beans
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 quart vegetable or chicken stock or water
  • 1 cup almond meal

Heat the oil in a medium soup pot. Add the onions, garlic, and carrots, and cook over medium heat, stirring every now and then, until softened and very lightly golden. In the meantime, trim the green beans and rinse them well. Add to the pot, season with salt and pepper, and cook for five minutes, stirring from time to time.

Pour in the stock or water, bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 30 minutes, until all the vegetables are soft.

In the meantime, pour the powdered almonds in a dry skillet. Set over medium-high heat and toast for about two minutes, stirring constantly and watching closely, until golden and fragrant. Set aside in a bowl to prevent overtoasting.

When the vegetables are soft, add the almod meal to the pot and stir well. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Using an immersion blender or working in batches in a blender, purée the soup until completely smooth. Taste, adjust the seasoning, reheat over gentle heat if necessary, and serve.

4 -6 servings (very nice with a grilled ham and cheese sandwich)

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