Saturday, October 13, 2012

Random Cookbook of the Week: A Feast of Ice and Fire

This week I drew A Feast of Ice and Fire, the Game of Thrones companion cookbook that arose from the Inn at the Crossroads blog. Authors Chelsea and Sariann typically take a dish mentioned in a George R.R. Martin tome, then find or develop a pair of recipes for it: one medieval (or Roman or Elizabethan) and presumably closer to what Martin's characters would eat, and one modern and therefore easier on the modern cook/palate.

One of these days I want to try the Elizabethan Lemon Cakes or the Roman Honeyfingers, but this week I selected...

Modern Bean-and-Bacon Soup

3 strips of bacon
1 tsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 15-oz. can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 tsp dried thyme, plus extra for garnish (I used a T. fresh instead)
2 c. chicken stock
1/4 c. feta cheese, plus extra for garnish
1/4 c. orzo
1 c. water (I left the water out, since once I got to that step I decided it would make the soup too thin)
Salt and ground black pepper to taste

In a small skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until it is well browned but not burned. Remove to a plate covered with paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 1 tsp of bacon fat from the pan. Add the olive oil to the remaining fat.

Add the diced onion to the skillet and saute for 3-5 minutes, or until it is just starting to brown. Add the beans, thyme, and stock, then raise the heat to high. Bring the soup to a boil, then turn it down to a simmer. Half cover with a lid, and cook for 10 minutes.

Puree the soup either with an immersion blender, or in batches with an upright blender. Return to medium heat, then add the feta, orzo, 2 strips of crumbled bacon, and water. Cook for 5 minutes or until pasta is tender. Season with salt and pepper.

Ladle the soup into serving bowls, crumble a bit of the remaining bacon on top, garnish with thyme and feta, and serve.

This turned out SO WELL. The basic flavors are subtle, but the feta, bacon, and thyme keep it from being dull. I'll definitely make it again, maybe even double the recipe and make it my contribution (along with pies) to the family Christmas dinner. It's a perfect light meal with a salad, but I think it'd be equally good as a first course for a winter feast.

Because winter is coming. (Sorry, I had to go there.)

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