Do you recall old history or geography books with photos depicting Russian peoples well bundled up, background scenes visioning freezing temperature zones where no one would ever want to go?
Blank gazes of humanity, staring out, worn and tired, suddenly gave remembrance to this once impressionable phenomenon, only this was not something like Siberia.
It was the suburbs of Philadelphia.
Come to think of it, in retrospect, even the blurry photos also typically situated somewhere on those old book pages provided a strange resemblance to recent bare shelves in the usually overstocked supermarket giving clarity that product necessities as milk, bread, and eggs were temporarily in limited supply.
Fortunately, provided my guaranteed freedoms and no compulsory requirement of connections to the government party to gather such provisions I was able to simply drive down to the next closest, usually overstocked supermarket to obtain remaining products and ingredients while preparing for yet another of the pounding consecutive snow storms this winter, stopping even businesses in their tracks.
The worn and tired looking blank gazes of shoppers resembling what was likely the old Cold War study pages sustained.
Tightly wrapped in bulky scarves, thick gloves and hats the type with many with balls of wool bobbling on top somewhat warmed customers who were moving at much slower than common pace strides whilst kicking up remains of the already thickly piled black speckled slush.
Lifted, tilted faces exposed glazed eyes of fatigue, trudging in succumbed reservation to Mother Nature while mustering remaining energy maneuvering limited numbers of shopping carts left off in curbed areas between tire tracks that revealed the only proof of what had recently been removed by a snow plow.
The piled high stack of red beets were fortunately surrounded between other broadly diverse bright arrays of fresh vegetables surprisingly in ample supply reminding me I was not in the twilight zone and that everyone would not be requiring preparing borscht for the evening meal (though the shortage of sour cream in the other aisle reflected otherwise.)
Brazenly I scanned the produce section and despite disturbing recollections of old school books nagging my guilt toward patience instead I dreamed of skinny asparagus topped with giant red strawberries, tomatoes and basil from my own garden, lots and lots, and lots, of bright green zucchini.
Truth is. I am simply tiring of root vegetables. Let’s just say, the glamour of stew is temporarily waning, just like winter. I’m sure.
Clean smells, brisk, fresh air nipping rosy cheeks in the chill, children sledding, hot soups simmering, crackling fires, books lined up for reading, nervous, brightly colored birds pecking seeds from the feeder, the hectic flurry of shoppers readying for a wintry coat of white, the sparkling, silvery glitter of trees, sharing meals with neighbors, craft cocktails or those not so crafty, these moments are the treasures of winter.
And this winter, as its accompanying root vegetables, these glamours are too waning.
There comes a point when you’ve just had enough. Enough. The scene has transformed to such that anyone throughout the entire region of Philadelphia is in unique rare agreement, we have had enough snow and cold and winter. Done. Enough. Thank You.
Though I cannot think of a single man I know who when he’s just had enough and needs to get away for awhile would even remotely think of going to a store. Then aimlessly wander around aisles with no plan in mind looking for absolutely nothing in particular.
Being a woman, the store to cure what ails you for me is Home Goods just around the corner.
An aimless wander in Home Goods through this winter plight was the perfect escape.
And the prize of the day. One simple bag of beans. Really. Heirloom beans.
Who doesn’t love an heirloom?
The attractively packaged Heirloom Baby Borlotti Beans in a clear bag contained the appearance of perfectly shaped golden caramel color balls with a dark speckle marking each top.
Besides providing the opportunity of a needed diversion, the purchase also called for a little research into the unfamiliar producer, Zursun.
Zursun Idaho Heirloom Beans, that is, with two dots above the Z.
Residing along the Snake River Canyon in South Central Idaho a number of farms grow pure strains of a broad selection of heirlooms for Jim Soran, owner of Zursun.
Among the many tidbits of information surrounding the eco-friendly ingredients is that Idaho is internationally recognized as having the ideal environmental conditions for bean growing thus producing the distinctly flavorful beans such as the Baby Borlotti used in today’s soup.
I wasn’t sure ‘weather’ or not to ignore the part about the areas arid climate but got over it quickly reading about the rich well drained loamy soil, which then of course circled me right back to references of moderate temperatures and stable moisture levels. Did I already refer to the bright colors and shapes of these unique beans treasured as untouched by genetic science or modern technology?
The Baby Borlotti Bean is a small cousin to the cranberry bean and it does possess a nutty flavor along with a meaty density. Combined with fresh chopped vegetables and herbs then finished off with cheese tortellinis, basil leaf and Parmesan cheese, the results of this hearty soup proved all the difference in seeking out a new distinctive flavor and a little variety in these wintry doldrums.
With a selection of nearly fifty types of colorful, diverse shapes and sizes, Zursun Idaho Heirloom Beans range in types from Adzuki to Yellow Eyes (these according to the site date back to 1860) and with a mild flavor yet firm texture go recommended as perfect for preparation of New England Style Baked Beans.
With one simple click you can then view varieties of Barley’s, Farro’s, Cous Cous and Pastas, Quinoas and Millets, enough to create something new any time of year.
Surely the Zursun Idaho Baby Borlotti Bean, and thus introduction to a full range of other taste varieties was quite a good find in a simple aimless wander at Home Goods looking for absolutely nothing in particular as a temporary escape one snowy wintry day.
And, after all, winter, spring, summer, or fall, who doesn’t love an heirloom? Zursun Idaho Heirloom Baby Borlotti Bean Soup, Cheese Tortellinis, Basil.
Zursun Idaho Heirloom Baby Borlotti Bean Soup, Cheese Tortellinis, Basil
- 1 pound Zursun Idaho Heirloom Baby Borlotti Beans, rinsed, sifted through for any debris, soaked in a pot of cold water overnight, covering beans by a few inches
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 1/2 cup parsley, chopped coarse
- 8-10 sprigs thyme, leaves slid off stem
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 plum tomatoes, chopped
- 8-10 cups chicken stock
- 1-2 small zucchini, chopped
- 1 pound cheese filled tortellinis, frozen, cooked according to package directions, tossed with a tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2- 3/4 cup fresh basil, stacked, rolled, thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, more or less to taste
- 1 teaspoon cracked pepper
- 1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
- Drain soaked beans, rinse in cold water in a colander
- Add olive oil to a large cast iron enameled pot, stir in the onions, carrots, celery, garlic and bay leaves, cook on low heat for about five to seven minutes until softened
- Drop in the tomato paste and stir carefully throughout the vegetable mixture heating for two minutes
- Tumble in the chopped tomatoes, cook another three or four minutes
- Stir in the parsley, thyme, and the Zursun borlotti beans, stir and heat through for a couple minutes
- Pour in the chicken stock, increase heat to medium-high and cook to boiling.
- Reduce temperature back down to low, heat and simmer the soup in the pot for about an hour
- Stir in the chopped zucchini, simmer around fifteen minutes until the borlotti beans are fully cooked
- Sprinkle in the salt and pepper.
- Just before serving, stir through the cooked cheese tortellinis, sprinkle in the basil
- Ladle hot bowls of soup into individual bowls, top with Parmesan cheese