The conversation was meant to be about reducing food waste, perhaps looking at ways to creatively use up remains of our meals, or remnant bits of our sometimes wasted food ingredients. With the scheduled webinar instruction on the topic still some hours yet to begin, simple provisions take on a new sort of urgency, for as I type with slightly chilled, nimble fingers, today marks its own defining day, the stern and serious call of winter’s arrival, it’s simple reprieve in early evening, a steaming hot bowl of Pork, Beans & Greens Soup.
The westerly wind blew its notice last evening with a much colder chill than a jilted lover. It’s great long breaths producing sound like a cold icy creature consuming the spanned sky above, whoosh, whooo, whoosh, whooo, relentlessly puffing, puffing, puffing, its gusting powerful force. Tiny bits of ash flutter through the surrounded brick opening with mesh wire covering, remnants of a once crackling fire, but not today, for the piercing cold icy creature roars with gale, consuming all in its path, a stern reminder of nature’s power that we dare hardly challenge.
Thirteen days it’s been since bidding farewell to friends celebrating the first day of the New Year with lucky foods. The celebration included large pork roasts, first gently browned all over in the remains of a mere few bacon slices before setting into slow cookers, simmering to the perfect tenderness with onion slices, bay leaves. The slow cooker bottom held some liquid moisture, maybe three quarters of an inch combined chicken and beef broths earlier prepared from roasted bones providing those simple but healthy ways to fully maximize our foods, and the nutrients they provide.
Only just a few moments after departure of the feast, remaining juices from the slow cookers were collected into containers, tender slices of pork meat chopped, a bag of Great Northern beans soaked in a pot of cold water overnight. New beginnings were underway, Pork, Beans & Greens Soup was prepared, the hearty meal frozen, readying for just this moment, the day the westward wind relentlessly blew its wrath of gale, whoosh, whooo, whoosh, whooo, marking it’s own defining day, the stern and serious call of winters arrival.
- 1 pound bag northern white beans, rinsed, picked through for any pebbles or residue, soaked in a large pot of cold water covered by a few inches overnight
- 1 onion, cut in half
- 2 bay leaves
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 carrots, peeled, chopped
- 2-3 celery, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1-2 bay leaves
- 8 sprigs thyme, leaves removed from stem
- 1-2 cups leftover pork cooked in slow cooker, chopped
- Strained pork juices from slow cooker pork plus enough chicken stock or broth to measure 3-4 quarts liquid
- 1 1/2- 2 cups kale, chopped and cooked in boiling, salted water for 2 minutes, drained, squeezed dry
- 2 tablespoons coarse kosher salt, more or less to taste
- 2 teaspoons cracked black pepper, more or less to taste
- fresh grated Parmesan for topping, optional
- Drain beans after soaking in cold water overnight, rinse and return to pot filling with cold water to cover a few inches or more. Drop in halved onion and bay leaves placing bean pot on high heat to boiling. Reduce heat to medium after boiling and cook until beans are very tender, anywhere from 35-50 minutes. Drain cooked beans and proceed with cooking the soup.
- Add olive oil to a large size soup pot on very low heat, tumble in the onion, carrots and celery, cook about ten minutes until very well softened then stir in the garlic, bay leaves, and thyme, cook two minutes. Add in the cooked northern white beans, stir throughout, heat through a few minutes, scrape in the chopped pork, cook another couple of minutes just to heat pork through with the other ingredients. Pour in 3 quarts of the liquid, stir, let simmer around 40 minutes or so on very low heat. Fish out bay leaves and discard. Remove about one quarter or a bit more of the soup and process in the bowl of a food processor until smooth. Return mixture back to pot, stir, and continue to cook another fifteen minutes or so. Add in the cooked chopped kale, stir, add in salt and pepper, check seasoning, adding in more salt if necessary. Let soup simmer another fifteen minutes or longer adding in more of the last quart of broth as soup thickens, reserving some for later use as the bean soup may thicken and require more liquid unless served right away. Top off with fresh grated Parmesan if desired.