Saturday, November 8, 2008

My athlete-spouse

I get my recipes from a reliable stable of sources. Of course there are those recipes which I learned from my parents, dishes that I have long since adapted to my own kitchen. There are also those recipes that I've created. Then there are recipes that come from the old standby magazines, as well as from a few more unique and treasured titles. Television shows can inspire, though with the overall decline of the Food Network quality food programs are in ever shorter supply. I find fantastic recipes on a host of amazing blogs -- the Internet is likely the single most interesting and reliable source for good food ideas that exists today.

I generally do not get my recipes from "Runner's World" magazine. Not that there's anything wrong with "Runner's World." It's just that I expect that publication to contain information about the most notorious hills in marathon courses around the world, or perhaps a plan to get from the couch to your first 5K, or a slightly frightening article -- for me, anyway, as I am married to a marathoner -- which asks the question, "Are marathons dangerous?"

But looking up at me from page 46 of the December 2008 issue was a recipe for ribollita, a beany, greeny, thick and enriching Italian-inspired soup, and I couldn't say no. It's a coldish fall day here in Ohio and the brightly-hued leaves are swirling in devilish vortices in the street. Husband ran the New York City Marathon last Sunday. So today seems like a good time to whip up a pot of warming soup -- and cooking a recipe from the pages of "Runner's World" seems a fabulous excuse to brag about my athlete-spouse.

Husband finished his 26.2 miles through the five boroughs of New York City in about four hours and 55 minutes. Which is less than five hours. Which means he got his name in The New York Times. An exquisite accomplishment for a man running his first marathon. The most astounding part? He was not winded and his feet did not hurt. His legs were tired and sore, but, I repeat, his feet didn't hurt. My feet hurt after standing at 59th St. and 1st Ave. for two and a half hours waiting to see him come off the Queensboro Bridge at mile 16. But his feet were fine. Here's to Husband's totally impressive fitness level!

Anyway, the "Runner's World" soup. It is good. Let me tell you. It is starchy and velvety and filling, and so delicious that it has made marathoner Husband forget, for just the slightest amount of time, that he does not like beans. It gets its stick-to-the-ribs consistency from not one, not two, but three sources of starch: cannellini beans, red-skin potatoes and day-old crusty bread. It's no wonder that such a recipe would appear in the pages of a magazine that advocates carbo-loading before a big run. It's also healthy, as it's a great way to slip some nutritious kale into your diet. The ribollita is super easy to make, too: some chopping, some stirring, some waiting and then some eating.

So as Husband trains for his next marathon and dreams of other races to run, I will be cheering him on every step of the way. And I might have a bowl of ribollita in my hand.


Adapted from "Runner's World" magazine

2 15.5-oz cans of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 c. olive oil
1 T. garlic, minced
1 T. fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 large white onion, diced
2 celery ribs, with leafy tops, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1/2 bunch kale (leaves only), roughly chopped
4 red-skin potatoes, peeled and diced
2 c. canned whole peeled tomatoes, broken up with a spoon
32 oz. chicken stock (homemade or store-bought)
3 slices day-old crusty bread, cubed
1 t. kosher salt
3/4 t. freshly-cracked black pepper
Olive oil, to garnish
Grated Pecorino cheese, to garnish

Place 1 cup of the cannellini beans into a medium bowl and mash, using the back of a fork, until smooth. Set aside.

Place 1/2 cup olive oil in a large stock pot or Dutch oven. Add the garlic, rosemary, onion, celery, carrot and kale and gently cook over medium-low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the mashed and whole cannellini beans, chicken stock, potato and tomatoes. Partially cover and simmer for at least one hour, stirring occasionally.

Add the bread and stir through. Continue to simmer until the bread begins to dissolve into the soup. Taste, then add the salt and pepper as needed.

Serve drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with Pecorino.

Makes 4-6 generous servings.


Anonymous said...

Delicious soup - gorgeous in fact - but frankly I'm amazed that your rather amazing husband didn't fall down in a heap!

Recipes come from all over the place...we're all connected by food, aren't we?

Dianne said...

Thank you, Lucy! Husband is totally flattered that you have referred to him as "rather amazing." And I agree with you: I too am amazed that he didn't fall down in a heap.

And we are all connected by food, thank goodness for that!