Pot to Bowl: White Bean and Herb Soup

October 22 2008 - 7:06 AM

For my inaugural post, I wanted something universal, simple, and delicious. Something most people could throw together relatively easily. With the air getting crisper, the days getting shorter, and need for comfort food getting stronger–soup is definitely on the mind.

It’s funny. Every time a coworker or friend asks "So, what’d you make for dinner?" and I say "Soup," the most common response is "Ohhhh. I totally love soup." It seems to be the most universal food that most people aren’t making from scratch–or at least somewhat near scratch. Soup is one of the few foods found in most cultures in the world–whether the lentil soups found in Africa, the seafood brilliancy found in the Caribbean, the  Miso-based soups of Japan, or the peasant soups of Italy.

This soup "popped" out at me as I peeked into the cupboard looking to throw
something together for a Sunday night. I use a hand blender to puree
some of the beans to give it some consistency but you could leave it
super chunky with clear broth too.

What You Need
A. Olive Oil
B. Yellow Onion–diced evenly
C. 3 Carrots–diced evenly
D. 3 Celery Stalks–dice evenly
E. 3 Garlic Cloves–diced evenly
F. 4 cups Veggie Stock–the boxes they sell at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods for $2 are about 4 cups
G. 2 cans Cannellini Beans–drained
H. 5 sprigs of Parsley
I. 5 sprigs of Rosemary
J. 5 sprigs of Thyme

What To Do
1. Heat up a pot big enough to put everything into.
2. Once the pan is hot, add Olive Oil until it is warm.
3. Add B, C, and D with some salt–toss in a few four finger pinches.
4. Once #3 above is sautéed nicely (onions clear, carrots and celery
soft), add E until it all starts to turn golden. Brown is not good.
Brown garlic might taste burnt.
5. Add F and G.
6. Tie H, I, and J together with some string (kitchen twine if you got
it, otherwise you could use any string that doesn’t repulse you). Add
the herbal "bouquet."
7. Bring to a boil; turn down to a simmer and taste. Add salt and pepper to taste.
8. Simmer for about 20 minutes to bring all the flavors together; use
hand blender to puree some of the beans. If not hand blender, use a
regular to blend about half of the pot.
9. Eat!

Riffs and Extras
A. If you have some crusty, day (or two) old bread–break it up and
toss it in during Step 8. This what my Italian Nonna always did with
old bread. Those Italian Peasants really know how to work it. This will
turn your soup into a "porridge."
B. Heat up some olive oil; then toss in some parsley, diced garlic, and
rosemary (or sage even) until crispy. This makes a nice topper for your
soup. Be careful not to burn the garlic. Top the soup immediately
before serving to keep it crunchy.
C. Add some tomatoes if you have some extra ones lying around during Step 3.
D. Add some pesto as a topper at the end.

What To Drink
A. Wine: The herby, broth-based soup is begging you to pair it with
some Pinot Noir, Dolcetto, or other fruity, light red. We drank a
bottle of Tannat/Merlot blend from Uruguay. I know, I know. Tannat?!?!
Typically a little "bigger," the style coming out of Uruguay right now
is a little lighter, softer tannins, and a soft Blackberry flavor. Cellar Rat Wine Shop had a pretty nice specimen of the stuff on their under $10 table.
B. Beer: Weissbier, dunkelweiss are both great choices for this soup.
The savory, yet subtle herb flavors will balance out pretty wickedly
with the delicate yeast in these babies. Erdinger would be a nice
choice; Sam Adams "James Madison" Dark Wheat might pair well; Haystack
Wheat by Left Hand Brewery; Hacker Pschorr–well, I never really need
an excuse to drink it.