Saturday, March 28, 2009

Soup and Bread

Soup and bread... a simple, elemental, satisfying meal. It's also the name of one of my favorite cookbooks, Dairy Hollow House Soup and Bread, by Crescent Dragonwagon. It's about the soups and breads served by CD and her late husband, Ned Shank, at their charming bed and breakfast inn in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. CD's recipes are always innovative, brilliant, delicious. And her writing is a joy to experience. She also has the distinction of being invited to cater President Bill Clinton's inaugural luncheon. I've had the cookbook for years... it's tattered, splashed with ingredients, dog-eared, annotated-- in short, it's been loved. If you don't have a copy, and are a soup lover, I encourage you to do yourself a favor and get it.

The following soup, Jerry Stamps' Great Bean and Corn Chowder is a recipe contributed by CD"s friend and the town pharmacist, Jerry Stamps. It is a fun departure from the normal creamy, dairy-based corn chowders. It's a snap to make, and it's just soooooo good. So good in fact, that it doesn't matter if you use homemade stock or canned. The other great thing about this recipe is it tastes good year round, not just in the winter. Although I admit I have a soup addiction!

The recipe calls for dried beans, which I do suggest using so that you can season them as they are cooking. I often use the pressure cooker for dried beans, but this time I just went with the simple stovetop method. A word on soaking: you really don't need to soak most beans before cooking, as it only adds a little more to the cooking time. I will say that soaking can cut down on some of the less desirable features of bean cookery, if you drain off the soaking water and add fresh for cooking. This is because the soaking water gets rid of some the indigestible sugars in the beans that can lead to, let's just say, an unromantic evening!

Here is the awesome

Jerry Stamps's Great Bean and Corn Chowder

2 c. dried Great Northern beans, picked over and rinsed
2 qt. chicken stock
1 heaping t. dried basil
1 heaping t. dried oregano
1 heaping t. dried rosemary
1 heaping t. dried thyme
1 heaping t. dried summer savory
1 bay leaf
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes or 2 c. tomato puree
1 lg. onion, diced
3-4 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 pinch cayenne
1/2 lb. salami or summer sausage, thinly sliced and roughly chopped
7-8 mushrooms, sliced
1/2 bag frozen corn, preferably white baby corn kernels
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

If you plan to soak the beans, cover them with water by 2-3 inches and let sit 8 hrs.
Otherwise, spray a large, heavy soup pot with nonstick spray and add the rinsed beans and enough chicken broth to cover by 2 inches. Add 1 t. salt, the bay leaf, and the dried herbs.

Bring the beans to a boil, then reduce the heat and simnmer over medium-low heat until the beans are tender, about 1 1/2-2 hrs.

Once the beans are tender, add the canned tomatoes or puree to the soup, the diced onions, the olive oil, the corn,
and the cayenne and simmer for 20 minutes.

Then add the salami and sliced mushrooms and cook for an addtional 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve hot.

NOTE: Once the beans are tender, you can just add the rest of the ingredients and simmer until the vegetables are to your liking, 20 min. or so. I prefer to saute the onions in 2 T of the olive oil before adding them to the soup; this cuts the final simmer time down to about 10 minutes, as the corn and mushrooms will be definitely be done after 10 minutes.

Bread is a natural combination with soup. However, this "bread" is more like cake: Chocolate Banana Bread by Tyler Florence. It's a simple quick-bread recipe. Tyler bakes it in a loaf pan, but I'm sure it would work well in a 9x9 pan, to cut and serve like brownies.

Tyler Florence's Chocolate Banana Bread

1/2 c. butter, softened
2 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. cocoa powder
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted
2 lg. eggs
3 very ripe bananas
1 t. vanilla extract

Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Cream the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the melted chocolate and eggs.

I found the cutest little baby bananas at the store, and they ripened up very nicely.

Here are my bananas, mashed up:

Add the mashed bananas and vanilla to the butter mixture.

Then add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture.

Next we put the batter in a greased loaf pan, and bake at 350F. Tyler says bake for 50-60 minutes; it took mine longer, probably because all my little bananas added up to more than 3 big ones.

Here is the finished bread:

We enjoyed this bread, but I think a few little additions would improve it.
Next time I make it, I'm going to add some chopped walnuts and chocolate chips. :D


  1. Th at soup sounds terrific Karen. I agree with you on the choc banana bread, would be better with choc chips and some toasted nuts.. I have made before and thought the same thing!!

  2. The soup looks so great...salami, yum! I'm a fan of bean cookery and def. a fan of soup!

  3. The soup looks so comforting and delicious! It's a great recipe.

  4. I love the salami in the soup! It looks so good! And the bread, too, it baked up so high, and looks so moist. I bet it would be delicious with your add-ins.

  5. Love it! Love when we get two awesome recipes for the price of one!! The bread looks FANTASTIC. So moist and chocolatey, and well, that soup, it looks darn good, too. I love a warm, comforting soup!


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