Garlicky White Bean Soup

Garlicky White Bean Soup


Quite possibly the most delicious and simplest of all the bean soups.
TIME 1¼ to 1¾ hours, mostly unattended
MAKES 4 servings
1½ cups any dried white beans, rinsed and picked over
1 medium garlic bulb, cloves peeled
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil for garnish


Method
1 Put the beans, garlic, and rosemary in a large pot with 6 cups water over mediumhigh heat. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat so the mixture bubbles steadily.

2 Cook, stirring every 20 minutes or so and adding more water if the mixture gets too thick or dry, until the beans are tender and falling apart, 45 to 90 minutes depending on the bean and whether or not you soaked them first.

3 Sprinkle with salt and pepper and stir vigorously to break them up even more. If you like, you can mash or purée some or all of the soup at this point. Taste, adjust the seasoning with more salt or pepper, and serve with a drizzle of olive oil on top of each bowl.

Variations
  • White Bean Soup with Lots of Vegetables: In Step 2, during the last 5 minutes of cooking, add 1 to 2 cups of chopped greens such as spinach, kale, escarole, or collards and cook until the greens have wilted, 3 to 10 minutes.
  • White Bean Soup with Shrimp: In Step 2, during the last 5 minutes of cooking, add 1 pound peeled shrimp to the soup and cook, stirring occasionally, until it turns pink and opaque, 3 to 5 minutes.

Tips
  • The most common white beans are navy, cannellini, and Great Northern, any of which will work in this soup.
  • The creaminess of this soup depends on cooking the beans until they’re quite soft, almost mushy. If you soak the beans before making the soup, you can shave 30 minutes or so off the cooking time.
  • To use canned beans: Figure about 2 cans (about 15 ounces each); drain and rinse them well. Chop the garlic and consider using stock instead of water; you’ll gain some intensity of flavor. Put everything in the pot in Step 1 and cook until the vegetables are tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

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