By Isa Covo
2020 is over, but what problems started in this past year will not be over yet at the start of 2021. Trump still has not accepted his loss, after numerous ballots have been counted over and over with various methods yielding the same results. Whoever said, and apparently it was not Einstein, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”, could have been describing this process. Now the President and his minions intend to put the Army in play to change the election by military intervention. This won’t happen either. It is illegal, but the President still will not relent. It is his obsession as the nation, which thankfully has a vaccine to combat the deadly virus that invaded us, and still causes, and will cause a great number of infections and deaths, waits for millions to be vaccinated, something that is still months away.
For many families this has been an incredibly sad holiday season, with so many people isolated, sick, or missing those who have died. Adding to that the severe unemployment, or for others, the fear of losing one’s livelihood, it is hard to feel festive.
As we eagerly wait for the 20th of January, when our new President who has a different personality than the one who preceded him, as well as a promising government, will be installed, I wish you all a good and hopeful year, and a return to a happier future.
Mediterranean-Inspired Bean Soup
A soup inspired by the Mediterranean region, it is usually served as a main dish but it can also be served as part of a selection of small appetizers with drinks before the main meal. In this case it is served at room temperature. Aside from the beans, the home cooks and restaurants add their own touch with the use of their preferred flavors.
- 1½ cup (6 oz) borlotti, or any other small or medium-sized dried beans
- ¾ cup, or more, of extra-virgin olive oil, or any other vegetable oil
- 1 small bunch of celery
- 2 medium leeks, white part only
- 1 medium onion
- 4 carrots
- 1 quart vegetable or chicken broth
- 6 cloves of garlic, or to taste, peeled
- 1 large bay leaf
- 1 rounded teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon of Cayenne pepper, or to taste
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 tablespoon or more of tomato paste
- 1 small bouquet of a variety of fresh herbs such as sage, rosemary, oregano, thyme, or any other mix
- Salt and pepper as needed.
- Rinse and soak the beans overnight.
- Prepare the vegetables: cut the celery into 1/2 inch chunks, slice the leeks into thin slices, chop the onion, scrub and slice the carrots into 2-inch chunks.
- In a large saucepan heat the oil over medium heat and add the prepared vegetables; stir them occasionally, preferably with a wooden spoon until they brown lightly and become fragrant, about fifteen minutes.
- Add the beans, and stir to mix with vegetables and the oil, then the broth that should cover the mixture by about an inch. Add water if necessary. Stir again, increase the heat to high and bring the mixture to the boil.
- Reduce the heat to a very slow simmer and add the garlic cloves (they melt as the cook), and the spices. Cover the saucepan and simmer for about two hours, stirring the bean mixture occasionally to prevent it from sticking to the bottom. Add more liquid if the contents seem too dry.
- Mix in the rest of the rest of the ingredients and continue to simmer another hour, or an hour and a half, until the beans are very tender, but still whole.
- Since its flavors develop as it sits, this dish should be made a day or two before serving. Remove the bouquet and the bay leaf before serving.
- Serve with toasted slices of French bread rubbed with garlic, or a couple of tablespoons of boiled rice.Yield: 6 to 8 servings as a main dish, about a dozen as part of small plates.