ROASTED GARLIC & WHITE BEAN SOUP BLISS

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In pastry school, my teacher once said that he could never understand why people would keep a recipe secret. When he gave the exact same cake recipe to 15 different students he ended up with 15 different cakes. He didn’t see why any good cook had to worry about sharing a recipe, and I agree wholeheartedly. In fact, I think that food and anything that has to do with making it better is meant to be shared, as it is common to every living being on the planet. Just as we are all a little different, our versions of a recipe will be as well. No one can really “steal” a recipe.

Unfortunately, I have also met people who prefer to keep to themselves things that they know about how to make good food. I once met a very spiritual vegetarian pastry chef who made lovely mousse cakes without gelatin (which is made from animals). With a smug little smile, she refused to tell me what the replacement was, and assured me that it was not agar. What an extremely selfish action!- in my humble opinion.

So I just want to send out an open THANK YOU to everyone who shares recipes! I think you are awesome! I have been trying out recipes from many different blogs and sites lately and I must say, I feel so well nourished. Sometimes I follow the recipe exactly, sometimes I change it a little, and sometimes it’s just a very loose guide.

I found this recipe on a nice blog called sweetsugarbean and changed it just a little to accommodate my cupboards. No celery stalks, so I used celery root, no dry white wine, so I used grappa, and I cooked the beans before making the rest of the soup, so the veggies didn’t cook for as long as the beans. Perfect winter comfort food, a thick, creamy, satisfying soup.

*A note about stock:  Whenever I cook vegetables in water I pour the cooking water into ice-cube trays and keep in the freezer for adding to soups and sauces. The same goes for poultry, other meats, and fish if there is cooking juice or cooking water. Just freeze, transfer the cubes to a ziplock bag or container, and label as chicken stock, etc… I think it beats bouillon cubes any day, and it doesn’t take any time at all. So the stocks that I have are always changing. I used a mixture of chicken stock and veggie stock in this soup.

Check out the post where I found this soup, here, as her beautiful photos will get your mouth watering more than the little photo that I snapped, and you can see the soup with sumptuous toppings. (My fridge was a bit bare when it came to toppings… but never underestimate a good drizzle of olive oil!)

Here is the recipe with my slight modifications:

Tuscan White Bean Soup with Leeks & Roasted Garlic

2 cups dried navy beans.  If you are using canned white beans, you need about 5 cups, or two cans.
2 tbsp butter
2 leeks, cut in half, and washed thoroughly
a quarter or half of a celery root, depending on the size
4 medium carrots, diced
2 heads of garlic, roasted
2 tsp dried rosemary
1/4 cup grappa
salt and pepper to taste
6-7 cups chicken stock or veggie stock

Garnishes:
fresh croutons
shaved Parmesan cheese
extra virgin olive oil

Rinse the dried beans thoroughly then place in a large bowl, cover with ample fresh water and soak overnight. (I always add a pinch of baking soda to the soaking water. It’s supposed to help with digestion and the beans keep a better form, though the latter is not important for this soup.)  Drain, and cook on medium to medium low heat in a large pot of unsalted water until very soft. This could take an hour or two.

To roast the garlic, cut off the tops of the heads, drizzle with olive oil, wrap in aluminum foil (or in a little covered baking dish), and bake at about 375°F for about an hour. (Since the oven will be on for this long, think about adding other veggies to roast for your next meal… beets, squash, parsnips, potatoes… anything).

In a large pot, melt butter, stir in leeks, celery, carrots and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes or so.  Stir in the rosemary, squeeze in the roasted garlic, the grappa, the cooked beans, stock and salt and pepper.  Cover with a lid, bring to a boil, stir, reduce heat to medium and simmer away, covered, stirring occasionally until the celery root is soft, about 30 minutes.  If it seems too thick, add more stock or water.  Use an immersion blender to purée some or most of it – your choice.  Adjust seasonings, ladle into bowls and garnish with croutons, Parmesan and a good drizzle of olive oil. I had thinly sliced cured duck breast the first night, but I took my photo the 2nd day with only a drizzle of olive oil. Makes about 6 servings.

Enjoy!

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