When I realized that the young lady behind The Crabby Cook was Jessica Harper, actress, singer, children book author, I was a bit starstruck and had to overcome my natural shyness before asking her to contribute to the Holiday Recipes.
She accepted and as a result we serve the first soup recipe of the season.
White Bean Soup With Roasted Garlic and Rosemary
When Mother Nature’s Chillin’: White Bean Soup
As usually happens in L.A. during the holiday season, Mother Nature is being a drama queen. One day it’s 50º, the next it’s 80º. This makes menu-planning very difficult. Are you supposed to make soup for dinner or chicken salad? Not that menu-planning is something I really do much of anyway. Generally speaking, I plan the evening’s menu when the evening is already in full swing.
This attitude can be problematic if you get an itch, as I did a couple weeks ago, to make white bean soup. The weather suggested it—Ms. Nature was (literally) chilling--so I bought some dried Great Northern beans, which luckily have a long shelf life, because I only got around to making the soup yesterday. I kept forgetting to soak the beans the night before. (It’s just not my way to start preparing tomorrow’s meal before I’ve even belched from today’s.)
The good news is the soup is delish. The bad news is that today it’s 82º (and it’s December, for Pete’s sake!) and who wants to eat soup unless it’s gazpacho? I think I’ll just freeze the sucker until Mother Nature sees her therapist. When she gets a grip, and it’s 50º again, I can haul the soup out of the freezer and make pretend I actually do have menu-planning skills.
1 pound dried white Great Northern beans
1 head of garlic
1 large carrot, peeled and medium-diced
2 stalks celery, medium-diced
2 tablespoons fresh chopped rosemary
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 Yukon Gold potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
2 quarts low-sodium chicken stock
Yield: about 10 cups
1. Place the beans in a large bowl. Cover them with water by at least two inches. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
2. Preheat the oven to 400º F. Remove the outer layers of skin from the garlic, leaving only a thin layer of skin on the cloves. Using a knife, off about 1/4 inch of the tips of the individual cloves. Drizzle a little olive oil over the garlic head, making sure to cover all the exposed parts. Wrap it in foil, place it on a baking sheet and roast it until the garlic is very tender, 35-40 minutes. Set the garlic aside to cool.
3. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally until the onion is soft and translucent, about ten minutes. Add the carrot and celery, rosemary, thyme, pepper and 1 teaspoon of salt and cook, stirring, for three or four minutes, until the mixture is fragrant and the vegetables almost tender.
4. Drain the beans and add them to the pot, along with the potato and the broth. Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves out of their skins and add to the soup. Raise the heat to medium and bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat a bit and simmer the soup until the beans are tender, about an hour.
5. Place the soup, in batches, in a food processor and process it until it’s smooth. Return the soup to the pot, reheat it and serve it hot.
Take the sting out of cooking with other recipes from Jessica Harper in The Crabby Cook (Workman Publishing)