People who know me know I really love my dad, I mean really love him. Some might even say I take it a little too far when I say I picture myself marrying the 30-year-old, hairy (read: not bald) version of my dad. I just say I’m lucky because I think he likes me too.
There have been many times in my life that stick out as times when I knew my dad was a keeper/future husband material. One of those times was junior year of high school. I mean all of junior year–the year when my attitude was as ugly as my acne. Looking back, I thank my dad often for not locking me in a cage mostly because I think my mom was more open to the idea since it was mostly her fault that the world was so unfair.
Another time was junior year of college when my right lung spontaneously collapsed. I was in so much pain that all I could muster was a voicemail to my parents explaining I was having an emergency. I use the terms “voicemail” and “explaining” very loosely as the message mostly involved me shrieking into the phone about how neither parent was available in my time of need.
Dad drove six hours to Oxford with only a briefcase to his name so that he would be there when I woke up after surgery. He stayed with me in McCullough Hyde/Mc-kill-em-and-hide-em Hospital for four days sleeping in a chair, navigating the wilds of a small town hospital and most difficult of all: reminding me that everything is going to be OK.
The most recent time is another instance when my dad had to remind me that everything would be all right. Moving to Italy for a one year masters program isn’t for the faint of heart. There were a million times I wanted to and did throw my hands in the air and give up. My mom and dad were the only ones able to control these outbursts and get me back on track, reminding me that rescanning/rewriting/redoing x, y, or z form, letter or application would be worth it in the end. Thank God I had the sense to listen because they were so right.
On that note, I offer you the latest installment of “Best I Ever,” which is a true culinary collaboration. Dad sent me this email yesterday: “Recipe Idea- Soup: borlotti bean*, faro, rosemary, pancetta and p-r cheese.” Can you see why I love this man? What a great combo. I’ve tweaked it a bit (sans cured meat so Catherine could enjoy)**, but I think/hope it still captures his culinary vision.
Father’s Day Bean Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 yellow onions, diced
2 leeks, sliced thin
6 cups chicken broth
1 cup faro
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 sprig fresh rosemary
3 cups haricoverts, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 can each borlotti and white beans, rinsed (substitute pinto for borlotti if necessary)
Salt and pepper to taste
Parsley Pistou Topping
1 cup fresh parsley, minced
½ cup Parmesan cheese, minced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Add the olive oil to a large stockpot over low heat. While the pot gets hot, dump the leeks into a strainer and rinse under cold water to remove any sand or grit. Dry the leeks and add them to the pot along with the onions. Cook the onions and leeks for about five minutes just to soften.
Next, add the chicken broth to the pot and bring to a summer. Stir in the faro, tomatoes and whole rosemary spring and cover for about ten minutes. Skim off any foam from the surface and mix in the haricoverts. Taste for salt and pepper and simmer for another five minutes. Add all but ¼ cup of the beans. To thicken the soup, mash the remaining beans with one tablespoon of broth and stir into the soup. Simmer for another ten minutes, removing the rosemary sprig just before serving.
For the pistou, in a small bowl mix together all three ingredients. Serve the soup topped with two or three tablespoons of the pistou and crusty bread.
*This time of year borlotti beans are everywhere in Italy and boy are they pretty: http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2002/1516886065_5a4f65571b_o.jpg. They have a starchy texture and nutty flavor and cook up to a light brown. Unfortunately they may be tricky to find in the U.S., so substitute pintos if you can’t find any.
**For those who love cured pork as much as Papa Sudekum, this is how I would incorporate some pork love: brown about 1/2 cup diced pancetta in the pot until it lightly browns, about eight minutes. Hold on the olive oil since the pork will render enough fat. Add in the onions and leeks to soften in the drippings.