Herb White Bean Soup
I am mighty proud of my creation! A rustic, 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:
Don’t change anything whatsoever in this white bean soup, please (Wait. I’m not done. See below). I tried playing with it (using canned beans, 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.
Now that we had this little talk above: only if you are short on time and still want a decent approximation of this dish, settle for 4 cups of canned white beans of broad beans, and dried herbs instead of fresh, but be sure to leave the smoked turkey in.
White bean soup is a whole meal:
So please don’t let the longish ingredient list deter you. This is more ingredients than I like to use in a dish; but in its defense, I’ll add that it’s your whole dinner in a bowl, for a good dozen hungry guests.
- 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
- 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.
(If you ended up using canned beans: skip the above step, and proceed with the recipe, using only the wide heavy pot for making the whole soup)
Heat the oil in a large skillet. In a food processor, finely grind the garlic. Add the 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, chunky and thick. Stir in the pepper, and adjust the texture and seasonings. Makes a dozen ample servings.