Remaking Christine

42, jobless, standing in the kitchen

Comfort food for Irene

I am land locked, granted. And we’ve got a new roof and an upgraded gutter system that will hopefully shuttle all of the rain water we’re going to get tomorrow afternoon as far away from our basement as possible.  

But even from where I sit here in Central PA as merely a storm voyeur, it’s been unnerving to watch Irene’s eye makes its way up the East Coast and read on Twitter and Facebook about how friends from the Carolinas up to Maine are battening down the every hatch they can find to brace for this hurricane. 

My little experiment – the one where I’m attempting to make meals using only food that currently sits on my pantry shelves and in my freezers or comes in my bi-monthly CSA box — seems a tad trivial as friends face sustained 75 MPH winds and the coastline stands to get hammered by conditions that will yield serious ecological damage.

So since I can do nothing to stop the storm, I’ve had to roll with it the best way I know how.  I whipped up a big pot of comfort food. 

Seeing as Eliza was the only one of us to be directly inconvenienced by the storm (she was in Cape May, New Jersey, with one of her best friend’s families most of last week and had to get up at 3:30 Friday morning to meet the 8 AM evacuation order there), I made her favorite soup. 

It’s called Leftover Lamb and Bean Soup. 

Eliza's comfort food, steaming Lamb and Bean Soup

The lamb part is a stock made from the bones of the last three  legs of lamb we’ve eaten that were in the deep freeze in the basement which got lovely boost from the  OXO lamb bouillon cube my English friends smuggled into the US when they visited,  and celery, carrots and onions from the CSA box.  The variety of beans came from cans sitting on my pantry shelf. 

I still worry for all the folks living along the coast, hoping they have a steaming bowl of their favorite soup to help them weather the storm.

Leftover lamb and bean soup

Makes about 8 cups of soup

This has become a favorite of my daughter Eliza who has helped me tweak the recipe to her liking over the past three or four years. If I need to stretch the soup a bit to fill more bowls, I add 1 ½ cups of cooked small pasta like ditalini.


The remains of a carved leg of lamb, preferably one with a little bit of meat still on it

2 quarts cold water

2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

2 stalks of celery, washed and roughly chopped

1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

A tied bouquet of rosemary, sage and thyme sprigs

1 can of cannellini beans

1 can of red kidney beans

3 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly

2 carrots, peeled and sliced into ¼-inch rounds

Salt and pepper to taste

Grated Parmesan cheese


Bend the carved leg of lamb at the knee joint so that it fits into a 4- to 6-quart Dutch oven. Cover it with cold water.   Add carrots, celery, onion, peppercorn and herbs.  Over medium-high heat, bring the broth to a bowl and then immediately lower the heat to low to maintain barely a simmer.  Simmer the broth for about four hours. 

Remove the bone from the broth and set on a plate to cool. Carve off any meat still on the bone and cut it into ½-inches pieces.

Place a fine mesh colander over a large bowl and drain the broth into the bowl.  Discard the aromatics that are caught in the colander.  Wash the Dutch oven.  Pour the broth back into the clean Dutch oven.

Open the cans of beans, pouring them into a colander and rinsing them well.  Put the beans, the garlic and carrot slices, and pieces of cooked lamb into the broth.  Bring the soup back up to a simmer and cook it until both the garlic and the carrot slices are tender, about 15 minutes.

Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.

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2 Responses to “Comfort food for Irene”

  1. Eliza Rudalevige says:

    I love lamb and bean soup!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. wendy says:

    This sounds great! I don’t think I have any lamb bones in the freezer, but I’ll save this for when I do. Meantime, any ideas for a piece of pork belly should it thaw?

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