Well I don’t know what it’s been like where all of you live, but this past weekend in New Jersey we had some really crummy weather! Freezing rain, snow, temps in the teens… bleh. I knew that I needed to cook something that would be hearty and warm your body and soul. I had tossed around the idea of making my chili (see my article “Everybody has their own chili recipe… here’s mine!“) but by the time I came to the decision it was simply too late. My chili takes roughly 8 hours to cook and it was already 1pm… no dice. So instead I decided to make a vegetable soup, and since I’m apparently incapable of cooking healthy I just HAD to add bacon! Below is the recipe and wine pairings… enjoy!
Serves: A lot of people!
Cooking time: 4 hours
1tbsp Olive Oil
1lb Bacon, chopped
2 Large Red Onions, sliced
6 Cloves of Garlic, chopped
1lb Carrots, diced
6 Medium to Large Potatoes, diced
29oz Canned Cannellini Beans, drained
56oz Canned Diced Tomatoes
28oz Canned Ground & Peeled Tomatoes
12oz Tomato Paste
2c White Wine
2tbsp Ground Black Pepper
1tbsp Garlic Powder
2tsp Chili Powder
2tsp Smoked Paprika
2tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flake
1 Bunch Fresh Parsley, chopped
Ok, so one note before we move on. The seasoning I have in the recipe is based on my personal preferences. You might like more pepper, less pepper, more garlic, less salt… etc. I recommend starting out conservative with your seasoning, and then add to taste as the soup continues to cook. That’s the beauty of things like soup and chili, you can always add more later!
Heat your olive oil at medium in a large sauce pot (I used an 8qt pot and this recipe gets right to the top, so bigger isn’t a bad idea if you have it). Add your chopped bacon, cook until it lightly browns and you have a fair amount of rendered fat simmering in the pot. Add your onion, garlic and carrots, sprinkle with 2tsp of salt and continue to cook at a medium heat until the vegetables begin to sweat. Increase your heat to high and add your white wine, allow to reduce by half. Once reduced add your water, diced tomatoes, ground peeled tomatoes, and tomato paste, along with your seasonings. Stir until the paste has broken down and everything is incorporated. Reduce heat to low and cover, stir periodically.
At the two hour mark add your diced potatoes. If you add them too early they will start to break apart and make the soup too thick and starchy. Continue to cook on low while covered, stirring periodically.
With 30 minutes remaining add your chopped parsley and cannellini beans. As with the potatoes, if the beans are added too early they will break apart. At this point also check your seasoning and see what, if anything, you need to add. Cook for another 30 minutes covered on low heat, stirring periodically, and you’re done!
You can serve the soup with any number of accoutrements (oohhh, I just got fancy there). This go around I chose to make some white bread with a garlic and parmesan crust, as well as wilted broccoli rabe.
Now let’s talk wine pairings. You could go in a number of different directions on this one… As usual when I’m having a rustic dish I lean towards old world wines, specifically regions like Southern France, Italy and Northern Spain. Listed below are my recommendations, including what we drank this past weekend with the soup, Entrefaux’s Crozes-Hermitage.
Domaine des Entrefaux Crozes-Hermitage, Rhone, FR – Entrefaux is owned by the Tardy family, who began bottling from their 25 hectare estate in 1979. Their Crozes is 100% hand harvested and de-stemmed Syrah, and is 100% delicious, especially for the price. John Gilman is a huge fan as well, so I’ll share what he had to say… “The Crozes from Domaine des Entrefaux is really a lovely example of this underrated appellation, offering up lovely precision and complexity in a cool, thirteen percent octane format that is a wonderful nod to yesteryear. The wine offers up a fine and classic nose of cassis, black olive, pepper, dark soil tones, a touch of gamebird, espresso and a topnote of violets. On the palate the wine is medium-full, pure and intensely flavored, with soft tannins, modest acidity and lovely length and grip on the focused and complex finish. This is really a lovely, middleweight version of Crozes-Hermitage that is drinking well already, but despite its modest level of tannin, is so well-balanced that it will have no difficulties aging for many years. High class juice.” Thanks John, I couldn’t have said it better myself! 5,000 cases are made of this little beauty, so it’s not rare but it’s not exactly “out there” either. (Retail $19-24)
Giofranco Bovio Barbera d’Alba Il Ciotto, Piemonte, IT – Bovio was established in 1976 after purchasing 3 hectares of existing vineyard planted with Nebbiolo and Dolcetto. They have since expanded to upwards of 20 hectares of vineyard, including a plot of Barbera planted in La Morra named Il Ciotto. The Barbera is exactly what Barbera should be. It’s aged in stainless to allow the fruit to shine… Notes of tart cherry, pantry spice, leather and earth tones play on the palate with moderate degrees of acidity and dusty tannins. Typically Barberas are meant to be drank young, but Bovio’s can lay down for years. I recently had a bottle of their 2002 and it was absolutely stunning! (Retail $19-24)
Algueira Mencia, Ribera Sacra, SP – Ribera Sacra is one of the hidden gems of Spain. This picturesque region of steep hillsides and gorgeous rivers first came under vine in the 12th century when a number of monasteries were established. Keeping with this tradition, Adega Algueira actually designed their winery in the style of the monks who once called the region home. This Mencia is their entry level wine. Made from vines ranging from 30 to 80 years old, the winemakers of Algueira use this cuvee to show the freshness of the varietal, thus fermenting and aging it entirely in stainless steel (a practice known as Joven in Spain). On the palate the wine is beautiful in it’s simplicity, with distinct notes of black cherry, blackberry & boysenberry. Moderate acidity cuts through the opening and mid-palate, helping balance the lush fruit, and in the finish you find chewy tannins giving the wine a touch of depth and structure. Only 5,000 cases are produced and it hasn’t entirely caught on in the States yet, so you may need to do some searching and order this one online. (Retail $13-16)
So that’s the recipe, the pairings, the story. I hope you enjoyed the read, and as always I hope you make the dish and try the wines. I’ll be putting up some new content shortly, but in the meantime crack open a bottle of something you’ve never tried before, sit back and relax. Life is short, enjoy it!