Friday, December 19, 2008

Jim's Garage Sale Minestrone: The Secret's Out!

I bundled up against what felt to our Northwestern sensibilities like subzero temperatures, gathered a few empty wine bottles and hauled them to Jim Dixon's Olive Oil Garage Sale last weekend. I stocked up on his "Family Oil," the blend of leftovers from the 50-gallon fustini barrels he uses for bulk sales, as well as some absolutely orgasmic balsamic vinegar. He always has a pot of soup on the stove to warm up his customers, and this year he shared the recipe.

Garage Sale Minestrone

This year I used purgatorio beans from Ayers Creek Farm, but any white bean would work. While you could use canned beans, dry beans are cheap, easy to cook and taste much better. And cooking them generates delicious stock. I usually don’t soak dry beans, but go ahead if you have the time. Otherwise, use enough water to cover about a cup of dry beans, add a generous pinch of sea salt, and cook gently until tender. You need to cook them separately because the acidity in the tomatoes you’ll be adding to the soup would keep then from getting tender.

In a separate stockpot, heat about a quarter cup of extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Add a chopped onion and a pinch of sea salt and cook for a few minutes (I dice the celery while the onion cooks, so I let it cook as long it takes to chop a couple of stalks). Add the celery, cook a bit, then add a couple of chopped carrots. If you’ve cooked the beans ahead of time and they’re ready, add them and their stock at this point. If not, add a couple of cups of water. If you’re using canned stock or broth to make soup, read Michael Rulhman’s blog entry.

Peel and dice (for me, chop or dice in the context of soup means smallish bite-sized) a couple of yellow potatoes and half a medium-size celery root. Use the other half to make smashed celery root and potatoes.

Add the root vegetables, and keep chopping, this time with half a head of green cabbage and a bunch of cavolo nero (aka Italian or lacinato kale). Toss them in the pot along with a big can of chopped or diced tomatoes. If you’ve got them, add any old, dried out rinds of Parmigiano Reggiano (if you don’t save these, start now; they’ll keep forever buried in the cheese drawer [or freezer - KAB]). Add the beans and their stock if you haven’t already.

Simmer the soup slowly for a couple of hours. Add salt to taste. Serve with a healthy drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil.

You can get his oils before Christmas, though not the soup, alas, at his store at Activspace (833 SE Main) on Sat., Dec.20, from 10 am-1 pm; then from 2 pm-5 pm at Great Wine Buys, 1515 NE Broadway. And then back at Activspace, Sun.-Tues., 12/21-23, 4:30 pm-6:30 pm. Bottled olive oil is available, or bring your own bottles for bulk purchases. Subscribe to notices of upcoming sales on his website.


Mary Bergfeld said...

I love your blog, Kab. You take life in great gulps. It's a wonderful thing to see.

Kathleen Bauer said...

What a nice thing to say, Mary! I am having a great time, and it's fun to share. Thanks for being a part of it!

Jenny said...

My Italian Uncle is an olive oil MANIAC. He once made me promise never to even look at an olive oil that was not from Umbria. Admittedly I love some South American oils and (gasp) Spanish as well.

Kathleen Bauer said...

Jenny, you are so lucky to have had an uncle who was so passionate about good food. He would be pleased to know that Jim carries mostly Italian oils as well, but with friends who are in the olive oil business in Spain, and award-winning oils at that, I think it's good to be open-minded!