Vegetable Cassoulet

Which season is your favorite? It’s such a hard decision, don’t you think? Budding flowers, lazy beach days, falling leaves, and snow days sipping hot chocolate. Seriously, how could you possibly choose only one of those?

One of the things I miss most about the east coast is the distinct seasons. In Seattle it seems that there are only two: rainy and shivery, or 75 and sun-drenched. The sunny months are undeniably gorgeous in Seattle. And I loved every perfect day at Green Lake this summer. I’ll probably be chased by angry village people carrying torches when I say this, but I’m ready for the aloof Seattle rainy season to set in.

I guess there’s only one rational reason: soup. Did you know it has magical powers? It must. How else can such humble ingredients dance their way into such sumptuous flavors? I hope you have a stock pot handy because you can expect a whole slew of soup recipes over the next few months.

The past few nights have been cool, just cool enough to get me thinking about that oversized dutch oven that’s been neglected recently. So in honor of my favorite red pot, I decided to christen the 2009 soup season with a pot of vegetable cassoulet. I know, it’s a stew. And I know, vegetable cassoulet is sort of contradictory because real cassoulet has like 5 kinds of meat in it, but that’s what it’s called in my kitchen. You can call it whatever you like when you make it in your kitchen. And I suggest that you do make it in your kitchen. Very very soon.

It’s a generous, hearty stew that makes a serious belly-filling (and healthy) dinner. Toss some garlic croutons in there and you’ll wish it was cold and dreary out all year long. Creamy canellini beans, sweet tomatoes, the bite of garlic, and tinge of thyme. Mmmm… I’m getting hungry all over again. This one-pot-wonder reheats tremendously well, so make a big batch and take it to work for lunch all week. Enjoy!

PS – My favorite season is fall. Until I head back east for winter that is… What’s yours?

Vegetable Cassoulet

Click here to print this recipe.
Adapted from SELF magazine, November 2007
Serves 4
Time: 45 minutes

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon bacon drippings (or an additional tablespoon of olive oil)
3 small to medium sized zucchini, ½” dice
3 celery stalks, ½” slices
1 medium onion, chopped
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
4 – 5 cloves garlic, diced
1 – 14 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
2 – 14 ounce cans cannellini beans, drained
6 sprigs fresh thyme
2 dried bay leaves

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Heat the oil and bacon drippings in a dutch oven over medium heat.

Add zucchini, celery, onion, salt and pepper until it starts to soften, about 10 minutes.

Add garlic, stir another minute.

Add tomatoes, 1½ cans beans, thyme, and bay leaves.

Using a fork, crush the remainder of the beans and add to the pot.

Bake until golden, about 30 minutes, stirring once mid-way through baking. Remove the bay leaves and thyme stems and serve with garlic croutons or crusty bread.

Garlic Croutons

4 – 6 slices good quality bread
olive oil
dried garlic
kosher salt

Cut the bread into squares about 1½ – 2” in size. Spread on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and season with garlic, salt, and pepper. Toss to coat and toast until brown.

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1 comment

  1. Kelly September 18, 2009 at 6:36 pm Reply

    This is the best!! I made this and loved it – thank you!!

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