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Sam Choy yields to wife for favorite soup recipe


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POSTED: Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Of all Sam Choy's many, many recipes, this one is my favorite. First because it's a Portuguese bean soup, which is one of the world's great meals-in-a-bowl, but mostly because of what Choy has written about it.

"At family gatherings, it's the wife's soup or mine," he says in "The Choy of Cooking," one of his first cookbooks. "My soup always has leftovers; her soup's always gone."

Dominica Villiaros called the other day for the recipe, which she remembers cutting out of the newspaper once upon a time. "I tried it, I never forgot it," she said. Actually, I also remember it being in the paper once upon a time, but I tried many searches of our online database — no luck.

So either, 1) we're both mistaken; or 2) it's lost. Whichever, the recipe is a good one and worth a reprint.

Villiaros says she's tried many bean soup recipes, but this one is the best. She credits its specialness to the full cup of chopped cilantro that goes into the stock. One year she made a huge batch at Thanksgiving and it proved more popular than the turkey, drawing many repeat visits to the pot. "They ate all the soup!"

Carol Choy's recipe doesn't cut corners. No canned beans or precooked ham here. She starts with dried beans soaked overnight, then simmered with ham hocks or ham shanks. The sausage is fried and blotted of grease, then added to the stockpot, which gives it better flavor and a firmer texture than if you just cut it up and throw it into the pot.

Villiaros remembers almost everything about the recipe — except where she put her copy. It's been lost for years, she says, but we remedy that today.

 

DA WIFE'S BEAN SOUP

"The Choy of Cooking" (1996, Mutual Publishing)

2 cups dried beans (kidney, pinto or small red)
2 smoked ham hocks or ham shanks
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup chopped cilantro
2 cups diced potato
2 cups diced carrots
1-1/2 cups diced onion
1/2 cup diced celery
1 Portuguese sausage (10 ounces)
2 cups tomato puree
Salt and pepper, to taste

Soak beans in water overnight. Drain.

In a stockpot, combine soaked beans, ham hocks, chicken stock, cilantro and water to cover (about 6 cups). Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer until meat and beans are tender.

Remove skin and bones from ham hocks; shred meat and return to stock.

Slice and fry Portuguese sausage, and blot with paper towels. Add sausage to stockpot along with potatoes, carrots, onion, celery and tomato puree. Cook until potatoes are tender.

Season with salt and pepper. Serves 18.

Approximate nutritional information, per serving, based on 1/2 teaspoon total added salt: 290 calories 15 g total fat, 5 g saturated fat, 55 mg cholesterol, 620 mg sodium, 21 g carbohydrate, 19 g protein.

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Nutritional analyses by Joannie Dobbs, Ph.D., C.N.S. Send queries to "By Request," Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, Honolulu 96813. Send e-mail to: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).