I am mighty proud of my Herb White Bean Soup, a rustic creation—a low-cost and low-maintenance feast, and a meal in itself. Straight from my latest Cookbook, The Whole Foods Kosher Kitchen. Since so many of my recipes are so elastic, I might surprise you by asking you: No substitutions whatsoever in this white bean soup, please. I tried playing with it (using dried herbs, skipping the smoked turkey and so on), and it was pretty good, yes, but nowhere near as fabulous as when I made it the way I am instructing you here. It’s okay to put in the fresh herb sprigs whole and discard them at the end of cooking. Every single ingredient in this white bean soup is a star – the fresh herbs, the smoked turkey, the savoy cabbage, the large lima beans, the wine. Consider this a whole meal.
- 1 pound large dry lima beans, or other white beans, soaked overnight and drained
- 3 quarts (12 cups) water
- 1∕3 cup olive oil
- 8 large cloves garlic
- 1 large carrot, cut in large hunks
- 4 ribs celery, peeled
- 4 large leeks, sliced
- 1 large wedge Savoy or white cabbage, hard core removed
- 2 cups natural (no nitrites) smoked turkey, about 1 pound, white or dark, diced small
- 1 cup dry white wine, sake, or dry vermouth (liquor stores)
- 6 bay leaves, or 1 teaspoon ground
- 2 good pinches saffron
- 6 sprigs thyme, leaves only
- 2 sprigs rosemary, leaves only
- 3 sprigs sage, leaves only, chopped
- Salt to taste
- Ground pepper to taste
Bring the beans and water to boil in a wide heavy pot. Reduce to medium and cook covered for 1 hour while you prepare the rest of the soup.
Heat the oil in a large skillet. In a food processor, finely grind the garlic. Add the carrot, celery, leeks and cabbage, and grind coarsely. Add the ground mixture to the oil and sauté until translucent. Transfer the sautéed mixture to the bean pot and add all but last ingredient. Bring to a boil, reduce, and cook 1 more hour, or a little longer until the beans are very soft and the soup looks creamy and thick. Stir in the pepper, and adjust the texture and seasonings. Makes a dozen ample servings.