Sunday, February 01, 2009

Blog tour

Well hello there friends. What can I say? I know it's been a long, long, long time since I've shown my face in blog land. Quite honestly, I needed a break from blogging; I needed to take some time, breathe, live my life, and feel free of the compulsion to keep in touch with any social circles, whether web-based or "real" life. But in my absence I have missed updating this blog and keeping in touch with all of my friends out here. Recently I've realized that I was ready to come back, and I've just been trying to imagine how.

Participating in a blog tour for Nava Atlas's new book seemed like the perfect way to enter back into blog land. Vegan Soups And Hearty Stews For All Seasons is not a new book, but rather the fourth edition of her classic Vegetarian Soups For All Seasons. This new edition, released January 27, is a veganized version which features eight pages of color photographs of her lovely dishes.

Those of us participating in the blog tour were asked to choose one recipe from the new edition and post about it on or around the book's release date. Oops, I'm a little bit late! Nevertheless, I wanted to participate because I am a great fan of the third edition of Nava's book, which is filled with recipes for beautiful soups and stews that are packed with flavor and healthfulness, while being simple enough for busy vegans!

The recipe I chose was the Provencal Bean Pot--a white bean based stew that is hearty and satisfying, combining many levels of flavor, from the richness and depth of dry red wine to the delicate freshness of minced parsley. It is so well balanced and seasoned, and makes a wonderful meal on a cool day like today. At Nava's suggestion I enjoyed this soup with fresh, crusty bread.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups water
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
4 celery stalks, diced
1/2 cup dry red wine
4 cups cooked navy beans (about 1 2/3 cups dried), or 2 16-ounce cans, drained and rinsed
1 16-ounce can salt-free diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary, or more to taste (or use 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, to taste)
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a soup pot. Add the onion and saute until translucent. Add the garlic and continue to saute over medium heat until both are golden.

Add the water, carrots, celery, and wine. Bring to a simmer, then cover and simmer gently for 10 minutes.

Stir in the beans, tomatoes, thyme, and rosemary. Bring to a simmer and cook over medium heat, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes. If needed, add a small amount of water, but the consistency should be neither too thick nor too soupy.

Stir in half of the parsley. Season with salt and pepper and serve. Sprinkle the remaining parsley atop each serving.

And there you have it. I'll be back again soon but until then, bon appetit!