Serious Eats: Recipes

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.

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