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I’ve been missing home lately. My husband, Anna and I have been living in Germany since the end of March and I am looking forward to our trip back to the states in July. We’ll be spending two weeks in RI visiting with friends and then another two weeks in NY at home with my family. Yay! I will also have the chance to check on my former garden. The one at my grandfathers house. He has been tending to it this summer while I am living abroad and I am eager to get back home to familiar ground, literally. There was an international food festival in Cologne this weekend that my husband Thomas alerted me to and we headed over to the festivities yesterday to check it out. It started out looking like a huge flea market with people selling all kinds of used and new stuff. Then, as we worked our way to the center of the sea of vendors, there was a stage with loud music and people dancing what appeared to be a modernized form of some sort of traditional dance. Then we spotted what we came for. A cluster of white tents with tables and even more tables covered with home-made food and pastries. Yum. Unfortunately, most of the food was of the sort that I wouldn’t or couldn’t eat. Fried fish made in an African style that looked ok but who knows how long it had been sitting out, traditional Turkish pizzas loaded with cheese that I currently can’t eat, and lots of pastries that were most likely loaded with butter.  I settled on a slice of Hazelnut cake which ended up being heavenly-delicious and moist and so far my little Anna seems in good sorts so it probably didn’t affect her dairy protein allergy much. Thank God. The cake was worth the one Euro we paid, I just wish there was a recipe to go with it so I could make it again. Maybe after some experimenting with nut cake recipes I will find a close match… And we each had a cup of Moroccan mint tea. I will have to make that tea again this summer. Very easy and very delicious, just a bunch of mint leaves, a slice of lemon, a little bit of sugar (which I would omit next time or maybe replace with honey) and hot water. So by the time we got home it was dinner time and I was hungry and missing home so I decided to make a soup. I love making soups and I have always felt the best in the kitchen when a pot of soup is cooking. Plus it wasn’t too terribly hot out so I went about the business of raiding the fridge for my soup ingredients. This is the best way to make a soup, by the way. Just gather up what you have around, whats left over from another recipe or what is on the verge of going to the compost bin and chop it up, throw it in a pot, add some water and some seasonings and off you go to a hearty, delicious meal. It also helps that I thought to soak some beans the night before *wink*. I was feeling better already about being over 3,ooo miles away from my garden, family and friends and while making my soup I felt just like I was home.

White bean soup with homemade pasta

White bean soup

200 grams dried white beans
(pre-soaked over night or softened by the quick soak method)

10-12 cups water or stock

1 large onion

3 medium carrots

6 stalks of celery with leaves

4 small potatoes

5-6 cloves of garlic (quartered and crushed with the side of a knife)

1/4 cup olive oil

salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste

Put the pre-soaked beans in a large soup pot with the water and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to a simmer and put a lid on loosely. Simmer the beans while preparing the other ingredients. Clean and chop the onion, carrots and celery. In a frying pan heat the oil and add the chopped vegetables. Fry until the onions are translucent (about 5 minutes) stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Add this to the simmering pot of beans. Peel and dice the potatoes. Also add to the beans. Stir occasionally to prevent beans from sticking to the bottom of the pot and make sure to keep the lid on but tilted slightly to vent when simmering. While everything is cooking prepare the pasta. When the pasta is ready to be added check the vegetables and the beans to make sure they are tender. If they are not simmer longer before you add the pasta to the pot. Add the pasta and the chopped/crushed garlic to the simmering bean pot. Cook until the pasta is done, about another 10-12 minutes. Add salt, pepper and crushed red pepper to taste. If at any time the soup seems too dense add some more water to the pot. I like my soup to have a thick, hearty consistency but it can be more watery if you like.

Homemade Pasta

2 plus cups of all purpose flour

1 large egg

1/4 cup vegetable or olive oil

about 1/4 – 1/2 cup water

pinch of salt

Put the flour in a large bowl and mix in the salt. Make a well in the center of the flour. Add the egg, oil and some water. With a fork blend these together in the well until they are all incorporated together, then slowly mix in flour from the side of your well. If the dough is too dry add some more water. If it is too moist add more flour. Once everything is mixed in you should have a soft ball of dough that is workable and not too sticky. Cut a piece of the dough off and put on a floured surface. Roll into a log and take the dough between your hands and rub them back and forth until your log lengthens. You should have a long, thin roll of dough that is about 1/4th to 1/8th of an inch in diameter. Do this several times until you have no more dough left or until you are tired of doing it : ) On a well floured surface lay out your dough rolls next to each other and dust the tops with flour. With a sharp knife cut across the rolls making little pieces of pasta about a 1/4 of an inch thick (or smaller or larger depending upon what size you want in your soup). Cook in boiling hot water or soup for about 10-12 minutes. This is way more delicious than store bought pasta and really adds to the taste of the soup. Bon Appetit!

Come join Soup-a-Palooza at TidyMom and Dine and Dish sponsored by Bush’s Beans, Hip Hostess, Pillsbury and Westminster Crackers