For better or worse, here I am—trapped in paradise. As long as I continue to live in this vital, inimitable spot on the globe,

I will continue to seek out the unique…the delicious…the innovative products, services and traditions of San Luis Obispo County.

Stay posted for a few of my favorite things.

About Me...

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A wanderlust at heart... captivated by the California Central Coast. Join me on my culinary and vino-infused adventures as I explore and discover the regional novelties of San Luis Obispo County that make living here...easy to stay...and hard to leave.

Friday, January 29, 2010

SLO Simple

Sometimes a lack of ingredients can yield the perfect dish. As I started to chop my only onion and discovered it moldy and useless, I tossed it aside, reassessing my stratagem for the impromptu soup recipe I decided to throw together. I possessed a package of flavorful, fatty pancetta; a few cloves of garlic (down to the nitty gritty of the bulb); a few cans of kidney beans; a large bunch of red Swiss chard and kale; a carton of vegetable stock. What could I do?

I heated up a large pot, drizzled it with grapeseed oil, sprinkled a bit of pepper—and chopped the heck out of the pork belly. These little slices of unsmoked Italian bacon melted perfectly with the garlic (divine scent as they merged and sizzled) and I wondered what would transpire next.

As the pancetta began rendering its fat and the pungent garlic cloves started to permeate the air, my can opener whirled open the cans of beans. These high fiber staples soon found their way to a strainer, where they were promptly rinsed, drained, and left to ponder their fate. After a rough chop of the chard and kale, these healthy greens, purchased from a local San Luis Obispo County farmer's market, established their home with the dynamic duo sautéeing in the pan. A little salt, more pepper, a dash or two of nutmeg...another flavorful layer.

After the lofty greens wilted down to just a few inches of their original makeup, the red and white legumes spilled from the strainer, landing in the simple mishmash of ingredients. The vegetable stock soon followed, a quick stir ensued, and a lid topped it all off. Simmered for 40 minutes—with salt, pepper and nutmeg levels slightly adjusted as the rich, tasty broth developed—the flavors melded perfectly.

Soon I enjoyed the flavorsome fruits of my labor, realizing that sometimes just a few united ingredients...left to their own devices...are all you need. Maybe that's one of the great secrets to a simple, happy life.

SLO Green, Bean, & Pancetta Soup

3 oz. package pancetta (chopped in small pieces)
4 cloves garlic (peeled & chopped)
3 tablespoons grapeseed (or olive) oil
1 bunch Swiss chard (washed and destemmed)
1 bunch kale (washed and destemmed)
1 15 oz. can white kidney beans
1 15 oz. can red kidney beans
1 32 oz. carton vegetable stock
Dash or two or three of nutmeg
Salt & pepper to taste

Here is a simplified version of my spattered directions above...

Heat oil and a few shakes of pepper in large pot over medium heat. Chop pancetta and garlic cloves and add to sizzling oil. Stir often. Meanwhile, open beans and rinse and drain in a large strainer. Chop chard and kale (rough or fine—your choice, of course). Add greens to pot with a few dashes of salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste. Sautée until wilted to a pulp. Add beans and mix before adding vegetable stock. Cover with lid, lower heat, set timer for 40 minutes, and taste often. Depending on your preference, more spices might be in order. I used a ton of pepper. This healthy, delicious soup nourishes 2 - 4. Serve with crusty whole-grain bread if desired.

Eat well.

Eat healthy.

Live simply.

All Text and Photos Copyright © 2010 by Elizabeth in SLO. All Rights Reserved.

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