As usually happens at this time of year, Mother Nature is being a drama queen. One day it’s 60º, the next it’s 90º. This makes menu-planning very difficult. Are you supposed to make soup for dinner or chicken salad? Not that menu-planning is something crabby cooks really do anyway. Generally speaking, I plan the evening’s menu when the evening is already in full swing.
This attitude can be problematic if you get an itch, as I did a couple weeks ago, to make white bean soup. The weather suggested it—Ms. Nature was (literally) chilling–so I bought some dried Great Northern beans, which luckily have a long shelf life, because I only got around to making the soup yesterday. I kept forgetting to soak the beans the night before. (It’s just not a crabby cook’s way to start preparing tomorrow’s meal before you’ve even belched from today’s.)
The good news is the soup is delish. The bad news is that now it’s 90º and who wants to eat soup unless it’s gazpacho? I think I’ll just freeze the sucker until Mother Nature sees her therapist. Then, when it’s 60º again, I can haul the soup out of the freezer and make pretend I actually do have menu-planning skills.
White Bean Soup With Roasted Garlic
1 pound dried white beans (Great Northern or Cannellini)
1 head of garlic
1 onion, diced
1 large carrot, peeled and medium-diced
2 stalks celery, medium-diced
1 tablespoons fresh chopped rosemary
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 Yukon Gold potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
2 quarts low-sodium chicken stock
Yield: about 10 cups
Place the beans in a large bowl. Cover them with water by at least two inches. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
1. Preheat the oven to 400º F.
2. Remove the outer layers of skin from the garlic, leaving only a thin layer of skin on the cloves. Using a knife, off about 1/4 inch of the tips of the individual cloves. Drizzle a little olive oil over the garlic head, making sure to cover all the exposed parts. Wrap it in foil, place it on a baking sheet and roast it until the garlic is very tender, 35-40 minutes. Set the garlic aside to cool.
3. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large soup pot over medium low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally until the onion is soft and translucent, about ten minutes. Add the carrot and celery, rosemary, thyme, pepper and 1 teaspoon of salt and cook, stirring, for three or four minutes, until the mixure is fragrant and the vegetables almost tender.
4. Drain the beans and add them to the pot, along with the potato and the broth. Squeeze the roasted garlic to cloves out of their skins and add to the soup. Raise the heat to medium and bring the soup to a simmer. Cook it at a simmer until the beans are tender, about an hour.
5. Place the soup, in batches, in a food processor and process it until it’s smooth. Return the soup to the pot, reheat it and serve it hot.