30 April 2012
Carrot and white bean soup
This is one of those standard meals at our house, one that's super easy and delicious and not really notable...until you start eating it. Why would I need to take pictures of carrot and white bean soup? We make carrot and white bean soup over and over! It's totally normal! AND YET. Both John and I started eating and couldn't stop, and I was super excited to see what we had a good three servings left over to freeze for later.
What made this so good? Well, I think one element was definitely the great farmer's market carrots. These sweet spring babies are a far cry from anything you'd find languishing in the grocery store produce department. What else? I had soaked and boiled the beans from dry a week or so ago, and had thrown them in the freezer for applications exactly like this one. I used a good farmer's market onion. I made vegetable broth from scratch. I deglazed the pan with dry vermouth. And I ate my serving with a bunch of greek yogurt, sambal oelek, and chopped cilantro stirred in, although John had his plain. Anything else?
Carrot and white bean soup.
a couple cloves garlic
two stalks celery
six big carrots
salt, pepper, oregano, marjoram, red pepper flake
about 2 cups cooked white beans
3 cups veg or bean broth
an immersion blender
garnish: plain yogurt, cilantro, sambal oelek/other hot pepper sauce
If you don't have homemade broth, put some on to cook first. Just fill a pan with a selection of vegetable odds and ends, cover with water, bring to a boil, and let simmer for about fifteen minutes while you're doing the actual soup prep. Drain out the veg before you use the broth in your soup. Easy.
Start by chopping up your onion and garlic and softening them in olive oil or butter over medium heat. I used a big chunk of butter and just a little oil to raise the smoke point. While those are softening, finely dice a couple ribs of celery. Add them to the pan as you finish chopping. Then scrub all your carrots under the faucet, trim them, and dice them up. Add those to the pot as well. Season with salt, pepper, oregano, marjoram and red pepper flake to your taste. You may want to overseason a bit since the white beans will provide one big neutral palette later.
Stir everything up and let cook for a good five minutes. Then add maybe half a cup of dry vermouth, stir, and deglaze any bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Bring this mixture up to a simmer before you add the beans and broth.
Since I had precooked beans frozen in a block of broth, I just tossed the entire thing into the pot and let it melt. If you're using canned white beans, drain them before adding them, and just use all vegetable broth. I poured maybe two or three cups of my hot, freshly made veg broth over the top of the bean block to speed up this process (and to have enough liquid to make soup, of course). Bring the entire shebang to a boil, lower the heat to simmer, and let cook for maybe five to ten minutes, or until everything is cooked through and the ratio of liquids to solids is appropriate to your tastes.
Now take the pot off the heat, give it a minute or two to cool, and puree it with an immersion blender. You can, of course, eat your soup unblended if you prefer; we just like thick pureed soups, and the beans give this one an excellent smooth texture.
At this point you can put the pan back on the heat to reduce and thicken a bit more, or you can just go ahead and eat it.
The finished product is super-carroty, with thickness and protein from the beans--a full meal in a bowl. It's great by itself with just a little sprinkle of pepper or chopped green onions. However, I think it's even better with a big spoonful of plain yogurt, a handful of chopped cilantro leaves, and spice to taste. I used a small spoonful of sambal oelek; you can use whatever you want.
Eat by itself, or with a hunk of sourdough, green salad, or tasty sandwich of your choice. Yay, soup!