I’m a big fan of last minute meals. Yet, they mean different things to different people. For me a last minute meal might not take 2 minutes to make (okay sometimes it does), but it means that I didn’t have to plan to defrost anything, or do anything horribly difficult before starting. I also like meals that evolve as I go.
I had a good friend over for an impromptu coffee as our kids all decided to take a nap after a walk (never happens!). I hadn’t really thought about dinner, but as the 4 o’clock hour was approaching, I decided to check out what was in the pantry (surprisingly a lot…thanks Ocean State Job Lot!) since I hadn’t defrosted meat or made any sort of cohesive plan.
Right, I had multiple types of dried beans, all in small amounts. I knew I would let them all migrate to the back of the pantry until I forgot about them. So instead, I decided to use them. To make a potage. What is a potage you ask? Great question. It’s a french slow cooked stew or soup. It harkens back to the middle ages (probably before) and was considered peasant food. Think large pot over a fire that is stirred about once an hour and has all the leftovers dumped into it. That’s a potage. Now I obviously have not been cooking this for the length of my existence, but the modern equivalent is a nice, thick soup or stew that is cooked for at least 2 hours and is thicken with beans and/or rice.
Right, so onto the potage. How is it made? This is what I used;
A handful of 5 types of beans (what is a handful? I’d say about a 1/4 cup) I used lentils, navy beans, black eyed peas, white beans, kidney beans.
1 tea salt
1 tea pepper
2 whole bay leaves
10 baby carrots, cut into bite sized pieces
6 breakfast sausage links, pre-cooked and sliced
20 sugar snap peas, whole
That’s it. You could obviously vary the ingredients with what’s in your pantry. Add onions, garlic, no meat, different meat, more of one type of bean, etc. This is leftover soup at it’s best.
Rinse your dried beans and then place into a large pot and cover with water. (About 1 inch above the beans) Now cook over medium-low heat for 1 hour. Do not cover.
After an hour, stir and add more water. Add seasoning, carrots and bay leaves. Stir about every 15 minutes. I had Z add an ingredient every time we stirred so I wouldn’t forget to stir. Once your first hour is up, you will want to cover the pot to keep the liquid from evaporating and to cook the carrots through. Next add sausage, stir. In 15 minutes add peas, stir. Your soup should now be thickening. You’ll want to add water so that the ingredients don’t burn, but you want your soup to thicken, so don’t add too much water. Fine balance, I know. After about 2 hours your potage should be ready to eat. Taste test to make sure your beans are no longer crunchy and your carrots and other items are cooked through.
Once the soup is thick and tastes how you like it, serve in shallow bowls. This is a very filling soup so you won’t need a ton. I was going to make a crusty bread to go with this, but I forgot. It would have been delicious with it. It you have time (and remember) do it.