Sausage and Bean Soup

Sausage and Bean Soup

I started writing this entry yesterday evening (Saturday 9th October) after I finished making sausage and bean soup from the Poultry, Game and Meat section of The Soup Book. It was for the two sons' dinner - the spouse and I were going out to dine.  The recipe is suggested by Eric Treuille of Books for Cooks (I have to admit I haven't heard of him before). The main ingredient is, of course, sausage meat. The other ingredients are cherry tomatoes, garlic, chilli flakes, cannellini beans, stock, balsamic vinegar and parsley or basil.  It didn't take too long, but it did involve roasting the tomatoes before starting the saucepan work, and liquidising a cupful of the beans and tomatoes for the final stage of cooking.

There were a number of options for this sausage and bean soup. In his introduction, Eric Treuille writes, "We use chicken, honey and herb sausages in this dish, but other types work just as well." Then the ingredients state: "organic or other good-quality pure-meat sausages or chorizo", "chicken stock or vegetable stock", and "flat-leaf parsley or basil." So you have to make a lot of decisions. Not a soup to make on a stressful day, perhpas . One of the things I like about cooking and following a recipe is that once I have the ingredients together and the kitchen to myself, I am in control of the sequence of events. Anyway, I chose chorizo-style sausages, vegetable stock and basil.

We were joined yesterday afternoon by a friend of the younger offspring. This boy recently acquired the soubriquet "The G-Banger" courtesy of my older offspring. It originated from a misreading of his ("G-Banger's") name at a birthday party last month. But I digress. The finished soup was quite spicy, possibly because of the combination of chorizo in the sausages and the chilli flakes. The younger offspring and his pal had to add yoghurt to theirs to tame it. The older offspring described it as "very nice" and admitted to finishing it off before he went to bed last night. 

For my next venture I shall be making oxtail soup. It's unsual for me to make my choice so far in advance, but yesterday the spouse tracked down oxtails and bought every single one he could lay his hands on. A grand total of three! He had ordered them last weekend and suspects the butcher forgot to let him know they'd arrived. You don't see oxtails around much these days. I can recall the days when they would be hanging up whole in the butcher shop windows in Camden and Wexford Streets - or anywhere else in Dublin. They had to be chopped in front of you before being wrapped in paper. Then they started to disappear from the window displays but you could get them pre-packed from time to time. Now you have to order them. 

What about the honey, Mummy? 

I've already mentioned honey above (the "chicken, honey and herb sausages"), but I have come across a few bee and honey references during the week.  Last Friday the spouse and I watched The Song of Lunch starring Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson, and bees are mentioned. Then when I was going to bed later that night, I put on the radio in time to hear an extract from The Great Lover by Jill Dawson. Nell, the daughter of a bee-keeper, is a maid in the house of the poet Rupert Brooke and tells how she shows Rupert how to open a hive. He pulls open his protective veil, a bee gets in and stings him on the face.

Yesterday morning I met MH, who quizzed me about the bee-keeping course I did last month and about the bee box. The bee box is still sitting in the kitchen, placidly waiting to be treated with preservative. I must get around to doing it before storing it in the garage this winter. There it will stay until I put it out in the garden next spring, ready for any solitary egg-laying bee or other insect.

I still have a jar of wild oak honey from when the spouse, the younger offspring and I went to the farmer's market up at Marlay Park (see blog of 14th August).  I plan to use it to make a honey cake.  I am interested in this recipe for majestic and moist honey cake by Deb Perelman, which I found on the Smitten Kitten website. To be precise, I was amused by the writer's introduction to the recipe rather than the recipe itself. One day I shall overcome my fear of American measures - what exactly is a "cup"?

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