I’m much more of a bean than cream person when it comes to soups. But I think you can find a happy compromise by slow-cooking white beans until so tender they’re luxuriously creamy on their own. So rather than following the formula for cream of broccoli (or cream of fill-in-the-blank vegetable), you might sate your taste buds for the mild taste and velvety texture of much the same with this soup instead. I’ve gone and added some cauliflower along with broccoli here, since it’s fall and these brassicas are simply at their best.
There’s nothing but time that can render dry beans to this heavenly state — and deepen the flavors in the soup at the same time. After three hours of simmering, the vegetables had mellowed to soft sponges of practically uniform flavor, while the liquid had absorbed each of theirs in a perfectly harmonized broth. Along with broccoli and cauliflower these included onions and some carrots, particularly the pale, lemon sorbet-colored that had come in a multicolored bunch (so as to not alter the color of the soup so much). A lone half of a zucchini was chopped up and tossed in just for kicks, too, and I snipped off some of the good-looking leafy greens from the carrots to mince and nearly dissolve into the soup as well. They added wonderful flavor, but also speckles of green throughout.
- miniature, multi-colored carrots from the Greenmarket
- broccoli and cauliflower double up for a little more variety
- I guess this soup isn’t really about just broccoli, in that case, but it is most certainly about the beans. I used an heirloom white bean variety called hutterite, whose creamy texture when cooked makes it an excellent choice for soups. There were no plasticky bits of skin in the end after soaking and stewing them, and their buttery flesh added viscosity to the broth as they melted in. Definitely try out these beans if you come across them — I did in two small groceries recently in New York, as they’re carried by Rancho Gordo, a great heirloom food distributor based in California. If you can’t get your hands on them, a similar-sized (which is to say, small) bean such as cannellini would work great here instead.
- creamy-textured hutterite beans, perfect for soup
- Cold nights are in, soup’s on!
- White Bean and Broccoli Soup
- (makes 4-6 servings)
- 3/4 cup dried hutterite beans (or substitute dried cannellini), soaked in at least 3 inches of water to cover overnight
- 1 medium-sized carrot, chopped
- about 2 tablespoons finely chopped leafy greens from the carrot bunch
- 1/2 onion, finely chopped
- 1 celery rib, finely chopped
- 1/2 zucchini, chopped (optional, especially if you have one leftover)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock (preferably homemade)
- 1 cup broccoli florets, chopped (including stalks and any leafy greens)
- 1 cup cauliflower florets, chopped (or substitute with more broccoli)
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
- 4-5 fresh sage leaves, chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil