Mixed Bean Soup with Fresh Herbs

Are you like me who makes a quick list before heading into a store? I’ve been that way for some time and my lists that I keep during the week add up. These lists though allow me to make my driving routes and get into stores quickly and efficiently as I make attempts to stay clear of those who may look sick (coughing, sneezing, etc), especially this time of year. Not too long ago however I found myself checking off my list of things to get at Costco, but then got sidetracked, most likely because I saw some sickos ahead of me and turned down an aisle that I did not need anything from, that is until I saw a big bag of mixed beans that looked great, even in their uncooked state. We always talk about getting more legumes into our diet, so I was already sold.

Mixed Bean and Fresh Herb Soup Recipe
Mixed Bean and Fresh Herb Soup Recipe

So I have been making soup at least once a week recently, most likely due to the season, and granted I made French Onion Soup back to back, I decided I was going to use up those beans and turn them into a Middle Eastern style soup, and this one a mixed bean soup with fresh herbs, and pork. This soup was so good, and we knew it as we ended up eating it again the following day for another dinner.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • 3 cups of mixed beans, washed and soaked in water overnight (I used a blend of mixed beans including garbanzo)
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups pork shoulder, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 3/4 cup fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • salt, to taste
  • cracked black pepper, to taste
  • fried onions, optional

Start by soaking your beans overnight in cool water in a large bowl. When you are ready to make the soup, rinse and strain the beans.

Heat a soup pot on medium heat. Add in the oil and bring to temperature. Toss in the onion, and stir, cooking for about 7 minutes. Next, toss in the garlic, and turmeric and give a good stir. Cook for about 3 minutes, then add in the strained beans. Give a good mix, then add in the stock, water, and pork. Cook this for about 2 hours, covered on medium-low heat.

Once the beans are tender, check about 1 hour in, add in the salt and cracked pepper. Start with about 2 tsp of salt as the beans can handle that, and about one teaspoon of black pepper. Stir and continue to cook. Taste for any additional seasoning. Add more if necessary.

Mixed Bean and Fresh Herb Soup
Mixed Bean and Fresh Herb Soup

Add in the fresh herbs and spinach, stir and cook for about 10 more minutes to allow those herbs to perfume the soup.

Now you are ready to serve.

Mixed Bean and Fresh Herb Soup
Mixed Bean and Fresh Herb Soup

Ladle the soup into a bowl and top with fried onions.

The end result is really comforting. You get the creamy beans, still having some texture, along with the fresh herbs which are the real star, and the super tender pork and crispy onions. It’s really a great bowl of soup, plus super healthy to boot. What is not to love about that? So thank you to the person who sneezed an aisle ahead of me and allowing me to turn down that aisle at Costco. Those beans and I thank you. Hope you enjoy!

Homemade Wedge Fries

Oh how do I love a good fried potato. I actually really don’t care what type of potato is served, but if it is golden brown and delicious, I’m all in. I’m still coming up with pretty much all of the menu ideas for the family, and exhausting as that can be (granted, I still enjoy it), I decided to rummage through my pantry as I normally do to come up with something to make. This time it was about four potatoes I had just looking at me, so I took them out, scrubbed them and laid them out to dry. This allowed me to walk past them about 20 times only to think about what the heck I was going to make for the evening meal.

At first I thought I would make mashed potatoes and gravy as I know my daughter loves that and could probably just eat a bowl of that for dinner, me included, but as I thought about them more I was really on the fence to make twice cooked french fries, but I didn’t want to deal with frying. Then the light came on… (it takes awhile nowadays for that light to come on) and BOOM… wedge fries!

Homemade Wedge Fries Recipe
Homemade Wedge Fries Recipe

Wedge fries can be hit or miss in my opinion. You either get ones that are too soft, or too crispy, or ones that are simply just not seasoned. Since wedge fries are a bit on the larger size, you will want to not only cook them properly, but season them properly. I think I did just that because these were actually the star of the dinner, and so much that I ended up making another batch later in the week.

This recipe is way too simple to make, and is a perfect snack, or side dish to most any meal.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 4 russet potatoes, scrubbed clean
  • Olive oil, to lightly coat
  • 1/2 tbsp salt, more to taste
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • fresh herbs, optional
  • salted cold water

Start by taking a potato and cutting it in half, lengthwise. To each half, cut them into four wedges. I like to cut the half in half, again lengthwise, then cut each one in half on the diagonal.

Place these wedges into a large bowl of cold water.  Add about 1 tablespoon of salt and stir.

Repeat with the remaining potatoes.

How to make wedge fries
How to make wedge fries

Soak the potatoes for about 30 minutes to remove some of that starch. After 30 minutes, drain, and rinse the potatoes.

Once the potatoes have drained, pat them dry. Wipe out the bowl with some paper towel, then place those wedges back in the bowl. Drizzle olive oil all over the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper and give a good toss.

How to make wedge fries
How to make wedge fries

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Lay them onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and place into the oven.

Bake the fries for about 20 minutes, then turn each wedge over, and cook another 10 minutes. Take a butter knife or fork and lightly poke the wedge. It should insert rather easily. The wedge should look golden on the outside, and nice and tender on the inside.

Now here is what I like to do, but you can simply plate and serve as is.

I like to heat a very large skillet on medium heat. Add about 1 tablespoon of additional olive oil, and the butter, and let that butter come to a bubble. Slide the wedges into the skillet, and give a good jiggle to the skillet to cover the wedges in butter and oil, and let those continue to cook for about 5 minutes to get a bit extra crispy. If you are using fresh herbs such as thyme or rosemary, throw it in now. If some of the wedges start to fall apart, don’t worry. I could eat a bowl of those crispy bits (and the table agreed) alone!

Give one a try, remembering that they will be piping hot on the interior. If it requires more salt or pepper, go for it otherwise let your table season to their liking.

Plate and serve.

The result is one hell of a wedge fry and a lot less oil to deal with. As I thought I would have some of these wedges remain on the table to be used for a breakfast skillet the next day, well I was wrong. The family loved them so much it was as this was their first experience eating a large french fry! Hope you enjoy.