White Bean Asiago Bisque
and some cooking tips
Learning how to cook is a process that never ends. If you're dedicated, you'll be learning all the time and your ever-expanding knowledge will serve you and your loved ones satisfying dishes and thoughtful conversations. I learned so much about cooking this year. Many lessons came from my boyfriend, whose generous wisdom I’d initially ignore. I've always been a make-my-own-mistakes kind of learner. I'd like to share some tips that I've accrued over the past year(s) that I think will be helpful to anyone who is interested in learning about cooking.
Chicken and beef should be salted the day before. This is a hard rule for me no matter how I am cooking the protein. This rule does not equally apply to all proteins. It absolutely applies to chicken and beef.
I have a lot to say about dried beans. Use the freshest dried beans you can find. The freshness of the bean will affect every aspect of working with it. To soak or not to soak is up to you. If you do not soak, be prepared to cook them longer and lower to achieve a creamy bean. If I have the time to soak, I would always prefer it, but sometimes I don't know that I'm going to be eating a bean until I'm already cooking it. Fat (be it animal or oil) is extremely important to beans. Use fat and lots of it.
Sometimes, the oven is the best option. For a dish that requires a long even heat, consider popping the whole thing in the oven as opposed to the stovetop. This year, I learned that I have been underutilizing my oven. Now, every time I cook beans, lentils, stews, etc. I'm throwing the pot in my oven and walking away. Temperature varies from 300 to 400 depending on what’s in the pot.
Baby spinach is horseshit. So is orzo.
Pasta should never be cooked in soup. Always cook separately in a pot of salted water and add cooled pasta to cooled soup.
Broth that doesn't boil will be better. When making broth you should be looking for blub… blub… blub. Not whoosh.
Chicken (for soup) should be poached, but not boiled
I could go on and on and on and I will. I am of the opinion that the guidelines listed are non-negotiable. May you incorporate them into your kitchen habits and find that you agree with me. It feels good to be over here on the right side of history. You can start with this recipe for White Bean Asiago Bisque.
The first time I made this soup, it was a custom order for a “Progressive Dinner." I had never heard the term before and was completely perplexed by it. Is this a dinner of Progressive Insurance employees or a meeting of AOC lovers? My customer graciously taught me that a progressive dinner is a neighborhood event where each part of the meal is served in a different household. She was in charge of the first course. She later admitted that she had intended on taking credit for the soup but couldn't follow through once everyone was eating it. This was three years ago and she still orders from me regularly.
White Bean Asiago Bisque
1 LB dried white beans, soaked
1 large onion, quartered
1 lemon, halved
1 large bunch fresh thyme
2 tbsp. fresh cracked pepper
½ cup olive oil
10 - 16 oz. Asiago cheese, shredded
1 pint heavy cream
Heat a heavy pot / Dutch oven to medium high. Place your onion and lemon in the pot until they are both charred. Turn the heat down to medium low and a few tablespoons of oil. Once the oil is heated, add the pepper and thyme. Add the beans to the pot with enough water to cover them by a few inches, add the remaining olive oil. Simmer beans on medium low for an hour. Alternatively, place the Dutch oven in a 350 oven for an hour. When the beans are completely cooked through, remove the thyme and lemon and use a countertop or immersion blender to blend the soup. Return it to the pot over medium low and add the cream and cheese. Continue to stir until the cheese is completely melted into the soup. Salt to taste. Add more lemon juice if necessary. Serve with more oil, thyme, cheese, breadcrumbs, or cream.
You can use any white bean - baby lima, great northern, cannellini, etc.
Soak the beans in cold water with no salt or seasoning. It's okay to cook the beans as long as possible, they are going to be blended so if they start to burst it's no big deal. Salt the beans after they are fully cooked before blending.
I hope this newsletter finds you well in this first week of the new year. It seems that every year during this week, I am lamenting the challenges of the previous year and hoping that the forthcoming one will be easier. This is a prayer that never seems to come true. Each year feels harder than the previous one and 2023 was no exception. As I mentioned previously, the pursuit of knowledge is one that never ends. Though the past year was the hardest of my life, I feel that I have grown more than my previous 31 years combined. I’m looking forward to the person and the business owner that I am becoming.
I would like to offer a sincere thank you to you for supporting my work, buying my soup, making my recipes, and subscribing to this newsletter. May 2024 bring the ease we all deserve.
I love you