Sunday, November 16, 2008

Rustic white bean soup with sausage and caramelized fennel with arugula-almond pesto

So now that fall is essentially gone from NYC, the weather has been pretty overcast, cold and rainy.  Just the perfect weather for a hearty soup.  I had some pork sausage that I needed to use (also from Whippoorwill Farm in CT) and since fennel seeds are often used to make pork sausage, I thought it would be great to caramelize some fennel and add it to the soup.

The night before making the soup I soaked about 1.5 cups of cannellini beans  I bought from Fairway Market in NYC.  Unfortunately, the last couple of weeks at Fairway they have seem to stop carrying dried cannellini beans so I think I have to find a new place.  If anyone news a good place, drop me a line.

Anyways,  after a good soaking, I dropped them in a big pot of cold water, added a few pieces of leek tops I'd been saving in the freezer, some fresh rosemary, and a few cloves of garlic.  

I slowly simmered them until they were soft and creamy.  I let them cool in their cooking liquid.

Next, I diced up a couple of carrots, some leeks, and sliced some fennel.  Here's the mise en place:
I then started to caramelize the fennel.  I'd say it took about 25-30 min on low heat and resulted in a really rich brown:

Next, I browned the sausage.  I wanted to have fairly large pieces of sausage in the soup instead of having ground sausage.  Therefore, I just used a spoon to spoon out irregular sausage pieces into a pan.  After they were brown I removed them to paper towels:

Next, using the same pan with the fat and fond from browning the sausage, I added the leek and carrot dice.  I let this sauteed for a few minutes, then added the caramelized  fennel:

Then, I deglazed the pan with homemade veal stock, scraped up all the brown bits on the bottom of the pan and then added the cooked white beans and the cooked sausage.  I brought it up to a simmer and let the flavors meld:

While the soup was simmering, I got started on the arugula-almond pesto.  Well, actually it wasn't really a pesto.  It was just arugula+almond+garlic+olive oil.  Taking these ingredients, I put them in a blender and blitzed them.  Unfortunately, the other weekend I broke my food processor so I had to use a blender.  I ended up having to add too much olive oil to get everything to mix and so the result wasn't really what I was looking for, but it still did the trick:

Next, I toasted some slices of baguettes and spread some of the faux-pesto on each slice.  Then I put the soup on the bowls and served it with the pesto-topped-baguette.

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