Monday, 10 December 2012

Leek & Garlic White Bean Soup

The holiday party season seems to have already started around here, and I have already had a hankering for some good bean soup with lots of flavour but not too rich, to give myself a break from too many "treats". So here it is. These were the Blue Lake dried beans from our garden, but any white bean will work well; the usual pea or navy bean being just fine.

Good tasting yeast (you can get it at Bulk Barn) is a bit of a secret ingredient for soups, sauces and gravies when you want to go vegetarian. Its flavour is rather chicken-like. The leftover hard rinds from Parmesan cheese should always be saved, well wrapped and stashed in the freezer, for vegetarian soup making as well. Like soup bones, they lend their flavour to the broth then are taken out and discarded. At that point they are likely tasteless fatty blobs of no interest. But the soup they leave behind is fabulous.

8 servings
2 hours cooking time - 30 minutes prep time

2 cups dried white beans
4 cups chopped leeks
2 cups chopped carrots
6 to 8 cloves of garlic (1 head)
2 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
75 to 100 grams (3 to 4 ounces) Parmesan cheese rinds
2 tablespoons good tasting yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons savory

Rinse the beans and remove any bad ones. Put them in a large pot with water to cover them generously. Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat and cover the pot. Let rest for a few hours, then repeat the process. After three or 4 times, the beans will be mostly cooked.

Rinse the leeks, trim and chop them. Rinse them again, and drain well. Peel and chop the carrots. Peel and mince the garlic.

Heat the oil in a large skillet and cook the leeks and carrots, until softened and reduced in volume; about 6 or 7 minutes. Add them to the beans. Top up the water to be sure the soup is of a satisfactory thickness. Add the Parmesan cheese rinds, yeast, salt, pepper and savory.

Simmer for 30 or 40 minutes. Stir regularly to prevent sticking. Remove the cheese rinds before serving. As ever, bean soup is much better the second and subsequent days than the first.

Last year at this time I made Schchi; Russian Cabbage Soup

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