The Lexingtonienne

January25th

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My dad always used to tell me, “Don’t wish your life away.” But that’s exactly what I do every year from October 1 all the way through New Year’s.

bean soup

Every autumn, I wish we lived on the East Coast (or at least in the time zone), where we could breathe in the crisp fall air.

ham shank

ham shank

I wish it were cold enough out to brew up a big pot of chili. I wish the temperatures would dip into sweater-wearing territory. And I wish it would look and feel like Christmas is on the horizon.

bean soup

Instead, I slurp my hot mulled cider while sweating it out in 85 degree weather, and pretend that I am not looking at palm trees and taco trucks while listening to Christmas music.

potato

potatoes

I spend those last few months of every year feeling intensely jealous of people who “get weather” where they live, who are watching leaves change on the trees as they cozy up to crackling fires, while I remain trapped in a purgatory of endless summer. How I wish I were there.

bean soup

And then, something happens. Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas all come and go, and – as though we have been riding a long, super-fun, winding slide of holiday magic – we are abruptly spit out at JANUARY, that dreadful month of resolutions and good behavior and NOTHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO until springtime arrives.

bean soup

Except, of course, for those of us who live in Southern California. In January, we pack away the Christmas decorations, put on our sunglasses, and head to the beach. ENJOY THE REST OF YOUR WINTER, SUCKAS!

So if you are expecting a chilly day sometime between now and April where you live, here’s a great recipe for bean soup. In the meantime, Eleanora and I will be at the beach.

bean soup

U.S. SENATE BEAN SOUP (pdf to come)
Adapted from the Joy of Cooking

  • 1 1/4 C dried white beans, such as navy or great northern
  • 7 C cold water or chicken broth
  • 1 small ham hock or ham shank
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 medium celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped*
  • 1 large potato, peeled and diced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Pick over, rinse, and soak the beans according to package directions. (Plan ahead; depending on what soaking method you use, this step could take anywhere from an hour to overnight.) Drain the beans and place them in a soup pot along with the water or chicken broth and the ham hock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until the beans are tender, about 1 1/4 hours. Remove the ham hock and discard the skin, bone, and fat. Dice the meat and return it to the pot along with the onion, celery, carrots, potato, and garlic. Add salt & pepper to taste. (You would think with the ham that you wouldn’t need any salt, but you’d be surprised.) Simmer until the potatoes are very soft, at least 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and mash lightly with a potato masher until the soup appears a little creamy. Return to the stove and simmer for at least another hour, stirring occasionally. (You know how soup is… the longer the better!)

Makes about 6 cups.

*Joy of Cooking’s recipe does not call for carrots, but I love carrots so I added them. I also added some fresh kale at the end because I made this on New Year’s Day and you’re supposed to be “healthy” that day.

Wish you were here,
Hannah

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