Nothing goes down smoother than a nice warm bowl of soup, especially on a cold day - or if you have an actual cold. That is not only a saying, but an actual fact, since homemade soups tend to contain lots of healthy vegetables and spices. Not only can we add a healthy plethora of ingredients to soups but they are great at doing another important thing - hydration.
With that said, yes soups can be a very healthy choice indeed - depending on what you add to them.
So in the spirit of good health and harmony, I give you a fantastic soup recipe based on a very healthy ingredient: Beans.
You know what they say about beans? I'll interject here and add a little school nursery rhyme to get you all hyped up:
Beans, beans, good for your hearth, the more you eat, the more you fart. The more you fart - the better you feel. So lets have beans for every meal!
If you arent that much into beans, atleast you can leave with cool new tune to tell your friends - and its sure to impress anyone within your close proximity. (Both the actual bean-based soup im about to describe as well as the little poem above)
In all seriousness I will leave one small disclaimer here and it may be something I will mention in a lot of my posts.
The ingredients I list and use should NEVER be a rule set in stone. I welcome you, nay, I urge you to experiment with other ingredients - even random ones - and I promise you, that you will find amazing combinations of ingredients and spices which might not be listed anywhere - you could easily invent a new great-tasting recipe that you could make your own!
Anyway as for this White Bean Soup; let's get going then shall we?
Here's what you'll need:
- 1 lb (450 g) Dried White Beans (navy or cannellini)
- 2x onions (peeled/chopped)
- 3x cloves garlic (peeled / minced)
- 3x bay leaves
- 2 tb Chopped parsley
- 2 tb tomato paste
- 1x large carrot (scraped / sliced)
- 6x whole peppercorns
- 1 lb (450 g) Kielbasa (optional - thickly sliced)
- 1/2 tb salt
- 2 tb olive oil
- 1 ts paprika
- 2 tb flour
First things first, we need to clean the beans - so pick over them for bits of grit and chaff, and rinse them in cold water. Some households insist on bathing beans overnight in order to soften them up a little and make them taste smoother - so that is another option here if you wish to start the evening before and prepare the beans.
Once you have your beans ready go and grab a large saucepan, throw in the beans and cover them with cold water to a depth of 1 to 2 inches.
Next we will place the saucepan on the stovetop and bring the water to a boil. Once boiling go ahead and turn down the heat.
Leave to simmer gently for around half an hour - this is the softening process and is very important - nobody likes hard inedible beans.
After around 30 minutes, remove the pan from the heat and pour in enough cold water to cover the beans to a higher depth of around 3 inches. The beans should settle on the bottom of the saucepan. As a sidenote here: If you spot any floating beans, they have likely gone bad since there is air trapped inside the bean - not a good sign - so throw that one or two beans away. If you purchased your beans from a trustworthy source though, then you probably won't encounter this issue.
Anyhow, leave the beans in the water for a minute or two so they quickly cool off; then pour off the water and replace with some fresh water - again to a depth of 1 to 2 inches.
Bring the water back to a boil (yes again) and then turn down the heat to simmer (yes again).
This second simmering phase is where we will add our onions, garlic, bay leaves, parsley, tomato paste, carrot, and peppercorns.
Cook gently over very low heat for roughly 1.5 hours, until the beans are soft-ish to the touch.
If you wish to add some kielbasa, do that at around the 45 minute mark during this one and a half hour long process.
Thats it though, when the beans are soft to the touch - go ahead and put one in your mouth (make sure you've waited a minute for the bean to cool off - wouldn't want to burn your tongue)
As a very last step, fifteen minutes before you are ready to serve your lovely new bean soup, go ahead and grab anther small saucepan and add the olive oil and salt. Heat this lightly and then quickly stir in the paprika, followed by the flour. Mix these ingredients into a thin and saucy gooey paste.
Add this fresh concoction to the other saucepan containing your ready soup and stir it thoroughly. Keep your stove on and simmer for a further 5 minutes, until the soup is thick and rich.
Serve with plenty of bread.
Enjoy, and keep in mind that this meal goes down amazingly with a glass of red wine!