A simple white bean stew – healthy comfort food

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Not sure why I seem to be on a white bean kick at the moment, but hopefully you’re not sick of them yet! My husband has been asking me to dust off the slow cooker (received it as a gift from my mother-in-law – so useful!) and make a hearty soup, so this weekend it finally happened. This comforting, starchy, nostalgic-tasting soup is loosely inspired by cholent, a traditional Jewish Sabbath stew that has a very interesting multicultural history (read about it here)…minus the meat/eggs. Super easy to put together, and even more so if you have a slow cooker – you can just throw all the ingredients in, set it and go to sleep…and then wake up to the wonderful smell of delicious hot soup! (Yes, soup for breakfast works for me!) Makes a nice large batch, easily enough for 6-8 people, just cut recipe in half or freeze the leftovers for later.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups dry small white beans (if cooking on stove, pre-soak overnight to shorten cooking time)
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (only needed if not using a slow cooker)
  • 1 small onion
  • 3-4 celery stalks (I prefer to use the celery heart, including the leaves), diced
  • 3 small carrots, sliced about 1/4″ thick
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 4-5 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 tsp sweet red paprika
  • 2 Tbsp veggie broth powder or 2 broth cubes (I use Seitenbacher or Rapunzel brand)
  • 1/2 tsp fresh coarsely ground black pepper
  • sea salt to taste

Rinse and drain the beans. Chop your veggies into about 1/4 inch thick pieces.

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If you have a slow cooker, just throw everything in, set it for 8 hours, and relax….

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….but if not, keep reading! In a large soup pot, saute the onion in the oil on medium heat, stirring periodically until begins turning translucent. Add the carrots and celery and saute until the veggies begin to soften. Add the garlic, thyme, paprika, soup broth powder, beans, pepper, and water. Give it a stir. Cover and bring to a gentle boil, then turn down to a simmer and cover.

It will probably take about 90-120 minutes (more like 60 if you pre-soaked the beans) of simmering to get the beans fully cooked – you may need to check them periodically for softness. The goal here is to get them buttery-soft.

Season to taste with salt, and serve hot.

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Note that the starch from the beans will continue to thicken the soup as it sits, and like most soups, this one tastes better on the second day. Enjoy!

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