I have written here in the past about the the process of following my taste buds into the market, back into the kitchen, in an effort to recreate a delicious and meaningful dish. Once, it was my father's Chicken Chow Fun; this weekend it was the minestrone I had on the farm in Tuscania, rich with the property's wild boar and cheesy with parmigiano rinds.
Now the soup I ended up with does not taste like Laura Caponetti's minestrone, not even close, but yo it's really good!!
1/2 bag dried beans (I used Ojo de Cabra, kind of like pinto)
1/2 box orecchiete or any kind of smallish pasta
1 smoked ham hock (mine came from Ray at Bradley Farm, up near New Paltz)
1 rind from a wedge of parm.
1 can tomato paste
1 bunch kale, ribs removed and leaves chopped
4 carrots, peeled and trimmed and diced
3 stalks celery, cleaned and trimmed and diced
2 small onions, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper
The night before, I soaked the beans in a bowl on my countertop
The next day in a very tall soup pot I sauteed the onions (in oil) until glassy and translucent
then added the garlic
After a minute I added the carrots and celery
After another minute I added the tomato paste and stirred it all around
Then I put in the giant ham hock, the drained beans, and about 8 cups (?) of water, basically up towards the top of the pot
And the two bay leaves, and the cheese rind
I brought it to a boil then down to a simmer
Cooked it, covered, for about 2 hours
(About an hour in, I added the kale)
Then I removed the ham hock and used a fork and sharp knife to remove all the meat from the bone and put the meat back in the soup
then I added a lot of salt and pepper and cooked it uncovered at a boil for another 30 minutes
Then I put in the pasta and cooked it, uncovered at a boil for about 12 minutes
Pull out beans, taste 'em--are they done?
Do you like the salinity?
Don't be afraid to taste your way to what you like...