Monday, 24 February 2014

Roasted Garlic & Bean Soup

It's pretty hard to give an exact time for making this soup. It's the kind of thing where you work on it for a bit, then it sits, then you work on it some more. Still, once the beans are soaked and start their final simmer, you should be able to finish it in about an hour and a half, if you want. I think bean soups are always better for sitting a while once made, so I recommend making it in advance and finishing it just before it is served.

This may seem like a lot of garlic; I guess it is a lot of garlic. I don't think it is too much though. The soup is as subtle and sophisticated as this much garlic can get - quite different from the garlic soup I usually make.  In spite of the beans, it is also a bit lighter. You could eat something else with it, perhaps some grilled cheese and a little salad.

4 to 6 servings
1 hour and a half prep time, not including soaking the beans

Roasted Garlic & Bean Soup

2 cups dry white beans
2 litres water
2-4 bay leaves
100g (4 ounces) Parmesan cheese rinds
OR 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
3 to 4 bay leaves
1 teaspoon rubbed savory
OR 1/2 teaspoon each rubbed sage & rosemary
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 heads garlic
1 cup chicken stock or water
1 more head of garlic
2 tablespoons butter OR sunflower seed oil

Rinse and pick over the beans, and put them in a large pot with the water. Bring to a boil, then turn them off and let them soak overnight. Next morning, bring them to a boil again, then turn off the heat and let them soak for another couple of hours or so.

Add the cheese rinds, if you have some, the bay leaves, herbs and salt and pepper to the beans. Bring the beans up to a boil again, and then simmer them until they are soft.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375°F. Trim the roots and the tops of the3 heads of garlic, so that the tops of the cloves are just exposed. Rub the  heads of garlic lightly with a little oil, then wrap them in aluminum foil and bake them for about 1 hour, until soft, and cool at least enough to handle. This can be done in advance.

Remove the cheese rinds and bay leaves from the beans. If you did not have any cheese rinds, stir in the nutritional yeast. Peel the garlic, and purée the beans with the garlic until smooth. You will likely need to do this in two batches. Return the purée to the soup pot. Use the chicken stock or water to swish out the blender or food processor, and add it to the soup. The soup can be made to this point ahead of time, and heated and finished just before serving.

Peel and mince the remaining head of garlic. 

Heat the soup until it simmers steadily. While it heats, melt the butter in a small skillet. Add the garlic and cook it gently until it just shows signs of turning faintly brown. When you serve the soup, drizzle a little of the garlic and butter into each bowl.

Last year at this time I made Celeri Remoulade.

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