Tag Archives: Croutons

Meaty red bean and kale soup with cornbread croutons

This was the kind of meal I wish I made more often.

My friend Kate joined me at Sam’s apartment on Saturday night. Our dinner was grounded in the remnants of other meals: a pair of sturdy goat bones left over from a roast at Marin Sun Farms, and a few wedges of week-old cornbread. We had a pound of red beans and a bunch of kale, a can of tomatoes and a bottle of good wine. From there it was a long and loving spin into soup: the bones became a stock, rich and animal-smelling, and the stock became the cooking liquid for the beans. We went grabbing through the kitchen for odds and ends to nestle into the soup pot–fresh thyme, whole allspice, the rind from a gargantuan wedge of Parmesan–and then set the whole thing simmering.

Sam pointed out that the soup smelled an awful lot like pizza. He wasn’t wrong.

When the beans were half-done, we nestled in an impossible quantity of kale shards and let them wilt and turn silky in the soup. Then we cut the Styrofoam-cornbread into cubes, tossed them with olive oil, and baked them until they turned into the world’s most divine croutons: golden-crisp on the outside, buttery and soft on the inside.

This was the kind of meal I wish I made more often. While the soup simmered and the croutons baked, the three of us drank wine a little too quickly and had long-ranging conversations about ethical theory and science fiction and the bizarre historical artifact that is the Gold Standard. Then we ate soup, thick warm-blanket soup with pillowy croutons on top, and for a while all the conversation was tucked off to the side in favor of “mmms” and “ahhhhs” and sighs of contentment. Because that’s what a good soup does: it gets you talking while it’s cooking, and shuts you up while you’re eating.

This is the kind of cooking that keeps me going. Cooking with people, with wine, with bits and drabs of other delicious meals, is quite possibly the best thing there is.

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