Sunday, 16 October 2011

Food & Wine Magazine: October Cover Recipe

It's soup season, friends!

As if I needed another excuse to love and celebrate autumn? I eat and love soup and stew all year round, truth be told, but I love the excuse of colder weather to put soup-making into overdrive.  

The theme for October's Food & Wine is New French Classics, and to exemplify it, the cover features a gorgeous White-Bean-and-Ham Stew. I am once again joining Jasmine of CookThatBook to test this recipe out and share my thoughts and impressions with you.  Don't forget to stop by her website to see how she fared with this recipe, as well as check out Kendall's latest wine pairing!

White-Bean-and-Ham Stew
Rating: 4.5 out of 5: Rustic, easy, delicious, and hearty! Just a little extra seasoning, please.


My initial thoughts? Looks deliciously rustic. I was worried there wasn't going to be enough flavour, though: What do you mean no onions or garlic?!

For a stew with so many classic fridge and pantry staples, I actually had to go out and buy almost every, single ingredient for this recipe. I was under-stocked this week! I hate that. I get some sort of smug satisfaction from knowing I already have the majority of the ingredients at home. Anyone else? In any case, I was glad for Pete's Frootique, which had every single item I needed. (And, as usual, a little more that I didn't really need.) Three cheers for one-stop-shopping on an otherwise busy night!

Gathering up all the items and getting ready to prep them, I was awestruck by how beautiful everything was. Such simple root vegetables, leeks, and greens, but so vibrant and lovely. I had a nice mental picture of bowls of this stew laid out on French tables over the centuries, with a big mug of red wine to wash it down. So practical, but so filling and warming. With the grim, grey, and wet day outside, and because I feeling a little under the weather, I knew this stew was going to be the perfect cure.

Pretty, right? I was slightly enamoured!
Time consuming, sure, but quite possibly the easiest stew I've ever made. It went something like this: Plunk meat, water, beans in a pot. Wait. Chop vegetables. Wait. Plunk them in, too. Add salt. Wait. Take meat out. Put meat back in. Add pepper. Wait.

The stew was then ready to pop briefly under the broiler with a piece of bread and some cheese grated over the top.



I invited my dad over for a bowl before he drove home after work (over an hour away) and we both agreed that it was pretty delicious. I did find it lacked some seasoning when I tasted it half way through cooking, so I put generous amounts of sea salt and pepper in the broth, as well as a heaping teaspoon of Herbs de Provence, since I didn't have anything fresh on hand. I know, I know... who am I to question the esteemed Jacques Pépin, author of this recipe? Alas... my tastebuds asked, so I provided.

In spite of the fact that I had to buy 95% of the ingredients, I paid surprisingly little. While I knew what ham hocks were, I had never actually cooked with them, so I wasn't sure what to expect price-wise. The recipe called for 4 meaty, smoked ham hocks, weighing in at about 3.5 pounds total. Pete's had one, giant ham hock that weighed in at 3.2 pounds by itself, so I snagged it. It was less than $4.00!

A smoked ham hock, in case you were wondering!

I bought the wrong kind of beans - soldier - but they worked just fine. Pete's was also out of Gruyère, so I opted for Jarlsberg. (Just because I like it; not as a substitute.) For bread, I found an Apricot & Honey sourdough that added some sweetness to the dish. I paired it all with a fruity Beaujolais, as the Food & Wine article suggested. I opted for Georges DeBeouf's 2010 Beaujolais-Villages.

I would absolutely make this stew again. It makes 8 portions, and with how easy it is to pull together, it would be great for crowds, especially throughout the fall and winter seasons.

I only know of one creature who won't appreciate me making this stew again: Ethel. The smoked ham aroma wafting through the house drove the poor thing crazy! She also did a frantic dance when I poured the beans in a measuring cup to weigh them, thinking it was her food pouring into her dish. Poor kitty. A test in patience for her if I ever make this again.

Unhappy cat.


Jacques Pépin's recipe for White-Bean-and-Ham Stew from Food&Wine Magazine.


As part of CookThatBook's culinary New Year’s resolutions, we have committed to creating each month’s cover recipe from Food & Wine Magazine.

NOTE: If any of you would like to follow along with us and join in on the fun, we’d love to compare notes! So pick-up a copy of the latest issue of Food & Wine and get cooking.

The mission of Food & Wine Magazine is to find the most exciting places, new experiences, emerging trends and sensations in the culinary and wine industries. From travel and entertaining to luxury and design, this magazine brings an energetic and stylish take on food and wine. For more information on Food & Wine Magazine, please visit


  1. I love having you keep me company (albeit virtually!) in the kitchen! Your photos are beautifully and showcase the fresh veg so well. And Apricot & Honey Sourdough?! You're killing my gluten-free self ;) Can't wait for next month!

  2. Aimee! Apricot and Honey Sourdough! Oh my! Send me a bowl already! :)

  3. Pass me a bowl of that and the lovely Ethel can come and live with me and Willow (my cat) too ~ she is lovely! GORGEOUS seasonal photos and a wonderful recipe......such a wonderful post!

  4. There is nothing better when you are feeling under the weather than to comfort yourself with a hot bowl of home-made soup. I suppose it would have be nicer if someone could have made this for YOU but it was lovely that you were able to share this with your Dad, if not your beautiful cat. Your photographs of this White Bean Soup are wonderful! Love the sound of that bread too. Hope you are feeling much better.

  5. @Jasmine - Such a pleasure sharing virtual creative space with you! I stand my my half-way-point coffee idea!

    @An - one bowl with a side of bread on its way by FedEx... ;)

    @Karen Isn't Ethel the prettiest? I've inherited her through F., so I can't take credit for her fabulous name, personality, dog-like appetite and hilarious meowing, but I absolutely love having her around. Please post pics of Willow so I can ooh and ahh and love her from across the Atlantic? :)

    @Paula - Thank you for such a thoughtful comment! I am starting to feel better. Unfortunately my potential soup maker (F.) was out of town for the weekend, so I scraped myself from out of bed to devise my own cure ;)It was nice to share it with my ever-hard-working dad, though.

    So glad you all liked the photos! Thank you!

  6. What a divine recipe, Aimee! I love your take on it. And your photos are fantastic! Thanks for sharing. I will try this one soon!