Dinner Tonight: White Bean and Tarragon Soup

In the middle of summer nobody is looking for something to stick to their ribs, but on a snowy evening nothing sounds better. That's one of the nice things about winter, at least when it comes to cooking—the suitableness of soups and stews. Mainstays of an economically-minded cooking life, they are a boon for those of us trying to save a little cash. Nothing stretches longer for less money, whether it's based on legumes, cheap cuts of meat, rice, or pasta. For this reason I've been making a whole lot of bean-based soups around my house, like Cuban black bean and pasta e fagioli. This one, from Nigel Slater's The Kitchen Diaries, is one of the highlights.

For the absolute most affordable preparation, dried beans are essential, but for the sake of this column I went with canned. The result was delicious, hearty and filling but made delicate and distinct by the addition fresh tarragon. Rather than a classic start of onions and garlic, the recipe calls for scallions and carrots, which I think adds something of a twist to the usual flavors one expects from a stew. This soup is a great candidate for a stick blender or food mill, but I just smushed it a bit with a potato masher to keep it slightly chunky. A drizzle of olive oil and a twist of black pepper added some spiciness and pungency and cut through the richness.

Dinner Tonight: White Bean and Tarragon Soup

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About This Recipe

Yield:4

Ingredients

  • 3 14-oz cans white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 5 scallions, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium-sized carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1/4 cup fresh tarragon, roughly chopped

Procedures

  1. 1

    In a large heavy soup pot, heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat until the butter begins to foam. Add the scallions and stew for 2-3 minutes, then add the carrots and garlic. Cook until soft, about 5 minutes.

  2. 2

    Add the beans and stock and bring to a boil. Add the bay leaves and half the tarragon leaves, turn down to a simmer, and cook for 15-20 minutes until the beans are falling apart. Blend with a stick blender, pass through a food mill, or mash to desired consistency with a potato masher or the bottom of a can.

  3. 3

    Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. Serve with the remaining chopped tarragon, a drizzle of olive oil, and fresh black pepper.

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