From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Our weather has changed rapidly this week and the temperature this morning was 28 degrees. The Silver Fox and I have committed to the 10,000 step program and we walk first thing every morning, weather be damned. As you can tell, I'm way too proud about this, and given half a chance, I'll tell you more about the program than you would ever care to know. I promise not to do that today, other than to tell you I got my comeuppance this morning. It was brutally cold and I was pretty well bundled, with head and face covered in a hijib-like fashion. When walking into the elements, I keep my eyes on my feet rather than on the path ahead of me. Just before throwing my name in the ring for canonization, I happened to glance up and saw another walker, about my age, coming toward me. That was not unusual as there are lots of us on the trail at that time of day, but what did make the encounter unusual was this walker was using a walker to help her move along the path. To make a long story short, she, too, was a 10,000 stepper and while she instantly deflated my ego, she gained my admiration. It usually takes her 3 hours to complete the walk and she does it everyday, save for those occasions when we have a deluge that makes the path slippery. Now I've been known to say, "I don't know how much longer I can do this." I may have to rethink that.
This was the kind of day that begged for soup or stew. My larder was better stocked for soup, so soup became the order of the day. That decision give me the chance to play with a Spanish-type bean soup that I knew would be warm as well as filling. I had a large ham bone in the fridge and butterbeans (lima beans) in the pantry, so I set about re-creating a soup we had in Spain. I almost nailed it. This is almost, but not quite, like a soup we had for lunch in Seville. It is warm and filling, and if you serve it with fresh bread and a crisp salad you have the makings of a Spanish late-night supper. This recipe works best if you have a really smoky ham bone to work with. If yours needs some help, add a half teaspoon or so of liquid smoke to boost the flavor. What makes this soup Spanish? The paprika of course. I do hope you'll give this recipe a try. Here is how this cold weather soup is made.
Spanish Tomato and Butterbean Soup...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite
1 tablespoon olive oil
1-1/2 cups (1 large) chopped red onion
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
2 to 2-1/2 pounds meaty smoked ham bone, excess fat removed
8 (about 2 pounds) ripe plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, chopped
1 cup (about 2 medium) chopped carrots
1-1/2 quarts well-seasoned chicken stock
3 cans (300g each) butter beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons chopped parsley or mint
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoons plain flour
2 teaspoons smoked sweet paprika
1) Heat oil in a large saucepan, add onion and garlic, cook, stirring, until onion is soft. Stir in Paprika and cook one minute longer.
2) Add carrots, chopped tomatoes, ham bone, and chicken stock to pan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about 2 hours, or until ham falls away from bone.
3) Remove ham from soup. Chop meat and discard fat and bone. Return meat to the pan.
4) If you wish a thicker soup, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a pan. Add flour and paprika and stir for 1 minute. Add 1/2 cup cold tap water to flour mixture and stir until smooth. Stir into soup and cook until soup thickens slightly, about 10 minutes.
5) Add butterbeans along with parsley or mint and cook for another 10 minutes, or heated through. Yield: 6 servings.
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