After beginning a new vegetarian diet (and those words sound so very foreign, even to me) I decided that I had better acquaint myself with beans. And not the kind that come in a can. But the dried variety, that come in bags, with all manner of fancy names.
Dried beans have always scared me. Not unlike their counterpart, dried rice. I’ve long suspected that there is some secret ability to be able to cook such a dish. An ability that I did not have.
I bought a bag of white beans. In reality, when I was growing up, these were called navy beans. Which makes no sense at all, since we all know that navy is a deep blue color. But whattheheckever. The beans are definitely white. Perhaps they should be called albino beans. Which has a much nicer ring, if you ask me.
I was hoping to try a White Bean Soup recipe that I got from my Vegetarian Cookbook. I’ve had this cookbook for years, and have absolutely no idea why I had it, or where it came from. But it’s one of my favorite go-to cookbooks now.
Since our weather has mercifully cooled off, I thought it might be nice to try my hand at soup making. Soup making that didn’t involve Campbells and a can opener.
And in the spirit of full disclosure, usually this time of year, when the weather cools, I’ve been known to celebrate by performing the perfunctory underwear dance on the back porch. Because of certain medical restrictions, the yearly underwear dance will not be as graceful and lengthy as in years past.
Much to the delight of my children.
And a note to my neighbors: do not fear, Fiddledaddy fastidiously fixed all the loose boards in our privacy fence just last weekend.
Anyhoo. I served up my White Bean Soup last night, and every single member of my family (including the 5 year old, whose taste pallet has been seriously maligned by McDonald’s chicken nuggets) enjoyed a bowl. So I wanted to share it with you.
White Bean Soup
- 1 1/2 C. dried cannelloni or other white beans
- (don’t forget to soak them overnight, or else, you know, phhhhhhhtttttttttttt.)
- 1 bay leaf
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, finely chopped
- 1 celery rib, finely chopped
- 3 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 t. dried thyme
- 3 cups boiling water
You can bet that my handy mini-food processor got quite the workout, what with all that finely chopping business.
1. Pick the beans over carefully, discarding any bad ones or other particles that are not bean in nature. Rinse thoroughly in cold water to ensure that they are clean. Soak in a large bowl of cold water overnight. Drain and place them in a large saucepan of water, bring to a boil and cook for 20 minutes. Drain. Return the beans to the pan, cover with cold water and bring to a boil again. Add the bay leaf and cook for 1-2 hours, until the beans are tender. Drain again. Remove the bay leaf.
2. Puree about 3/4 of the beans in a food processor (I used my Vita-Mix), adding a little water if necessary, to create a smooth paste.
3. Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Stir in the onion and cook until it softens. Add the carrot and celery, and cook for 5 minutes more.
4. Stir in the tomatoes, garlic, and thyme. Cook for 6-8 minutes more, stirring often. This is when the house starts smelling really good.
5. Pour in the boiling water. Stir in the beans and the bean puree. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 10-15 minutes. Serve in individual soup bowls.
I added some homemade croutons by sauteing some Udi’s gluten free bread, cut up, with a little olive oil and garlic, until crispy. Amazing.
I feel as though I have no conquered my fear of beans. Next up, long grain rice.
I ain’t skeerd.