in desperate need of new reading material a few months ago, i picked up this book. it turns out to be one of the best purchases, desperation or not, i've made in a long time. it chronicles a year in the life of a holistic and integrated goat farm in eastern washington, quillisascut farm. broken down by season, the book beautifully details how each season is dependent on the previous, and contributes to the next, in the garden, in the kitchen, and for the farm residents, both animal and human.
not only is quillisascut a working goat farm and artisanal goat cheese producer, they host the "quillisascut farm school for the domestic arts" where chefs and food staff from all over come to study the life cycles that eventually put food on the table. (seattle chef's collaborative raises money every year for a student chef to attend, so keep an eye out for their fundraisers!)
i knew right away that i would love this book-- i am truly enamored with the subject matter, and the poetic photography of harley soltes perfectly tells the year-long story. (plus, there are tons of photos of goats! just knowing goats exist in the world brings me more delight than perhaps all else. i keep declaring that i want some one day, which i'm sure has rob plotting that we will never live in a place with a piece of land larger than a postage stamp...) but, best of all, quillisascut's book features recipes for each season, using fresh ingredients, and preserving fresh ingredients for the pantry to be used in meals long after their season on the farm has come to an end.
at the ballard farmers market about a month ago i noticed several varieties of totally charming dried organic heirloom beans from full circle farms. i'd never heard of any of them, and selected one variety based solely on it's lovely wine-stained skin-- heirloom cranberry beans.
as luck would have it, the winter chapter of chefs on the farm has recipes using cranberry beans, as well as jacob's cattle beans, a variety also available from full circle farms. quillisascut's cattle bean, kale, and chevre soup sounded like a perfect use for my cranberry beans, though i suppose i should have been prepared for the soup to turn a little pink! no matter-- this is a delicious, hearty soup that definitely belongs on a big ol' farm table. and i'm so glad to learn that goat cheese has a place in bean soup!
jacob's cattle bean* (or cranberry bean), kale, and chevre soup
from chefs on the farm, recipes and inspiration from the quillisascut farm school for the domestic arts
authors shannon borg and lora lea misterly
used here with kind permission from skipstone publishers
(their note: canned beans won't work for this recipe because as the dry beans cook, they make their own stock.)
2 cups (12 oz) jacob's cattle beans or other white beans, rinsed and soaked overnight. 3 parts water to 1 part beans, soaking water reserved (i used cranberry beans)
2 Tbsp salt
2 Tbsp (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
1 medium carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups tomato puree (i used 2 cups of diced tomatoes)
1 cup chopped roasted red peppers
1 bunch kale, about 8-10 leaves stemmed and chopped
2 dried bay leaves
1 Tbps dried thyme
1 tsp red chili flakes
1 cup heavy cream (i used less)
1 1/2 cups (about 3/4 lb) soft goat cheese
salt and freshly ground black pepper
in large stockpot, bring soaked beans and soaking water to a boil over medium-high heat. skim foam. reduce heat, add 2 Tbsp salt, and simmer gently for about 1 hour, until the beans are creamy and soft. add water if necessary to keep the beans covered. (start checking them after 30 minutes to make sure to not overcook. also, beans cooked at anything above a simmer will split and become mushy, so be patient.)
in small saucepan, melt butter and saute carrot, celery, onion, and garlic until softened, but not brown. add the tomato puree, red peppers, and kale, and cook 5 minutes over medium heat. season with salt.
when the beans have finished cooking, add the vegetable mixture , bay leaves, thyme, and chili flakes. simmer soup for about 20 minutes, then stir in cream and goat cheese. taste and season with black pepper and salt.
it's pink, but it's also tangy, warm wonderfulness on a soggy winter night. use tomatoes and roasted peppers from your summer preservation and you can probably find the rest fresh!
* p.s. this is what cattle beans look like, if you're interested.