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White Bean Soup

November 21, 2010

Well … this wasn’t necessarily the way this recipe was supposed to go. It was supposed to be a white bean puree, a lighter substitute for mashed potatoes. This was supposed to be the recipe that converted me from a potats lover to someone who could forego the creamy, garlicky, cheesy, buttery, fresh rosemary-flecked and gravy-drizzled goods to carve out a special place of honor on my dinner plate for something more earnest.

The recipe, from Orangette, extolled the puree’s virtues admirably. I wanted some of this lush puree and I had to have it last night, ignoring the fact that the original recipe calls for dried beans, soaked overnight, and that I was out of garlic. But canned beans seemed easier anyway, so I went with it, forgetting that canned beans are much mushier than dried ones and hence have a shorter cooking time. I also decided to “eyeball” the amount of liquid I added to the beans while blending, and well … without further ado, here’s my take on Orangette’s white bean puree, better known to me as white bean soup.

– 1 15-ounce can white beans, drained and rinsed thoroughly (alternately, can use 2 cups dried beans, soaked overnight)

– 4 large sprigs of rosemary

– (however many are there) sage leaves

– 2 tablespoons minced garlic (about 4 large cloves)

– salt and pepper, to taste

1) Put the beans in a large pot and cover them, by 2 inches, with cold water. Add the rosemary and sage and bring to a boil.

2) When the water is boiling, lower the heat to medium-low and simmer, removing any white foam that arises. Simmer until the beans are tender, about 35-45 minutes.

3) As the beans are cooking, set your colander inside a large bowl. When the beans are ready, drain them in the colander, reserving the cooking liquid. Remove the herbs.

4) In a food processor or blender, puree the beans with the garlic, salt and pepper. Add a 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid to start, then more as necessary, until the puree reaches your desired consistency (less water for a chunkier puree, more for a smoother one). [Note: if you’re using canned beans, I would start with no cooking liquid and then add as necessary, since I went with the 1/2 cup and ended up with soup.]

5) Serve hot, with an optional drizzle of extra virgin olive oil or balsamic vinegar.

I will say this: even though I managed to botch this incredibly easy recipe, the end product was absolutely delicious. It was velvety and smooth, with bright notes of rosemary, sage and garlic. Either as a soup or as a puree, I’m sure it will be immensely welcome at your Thanksgiving table.

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