The Vegan Experience: Hearty White Bean and Spinach Soup with Rosemary and Garlic

Note: For the 32 days between February 1st and March 4th, I'm adopting a completely vegan lifestyle. Every weekday I'll be updating my progress with a brand new recipe. For past posts, check here!


[Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

With a supply of excellent Hearty Vegan Vegetable Stock at the ready, making soups is pretty much a no-brainer—most of the hard work (and honestly, it's really not that hard) has already been done for present-me by past-me. Next time I see me, I'll have to remember to thank myself.

This hearty white bean soup with spinach flavored with garlic and rosemary is a great winter warmer, perfect for those evenings when you've just come home from a day on the slopes or from romping with the dogs in the park or taking photos of majestic snowy owls, or whatever it is that active winter folks do in this day and age.

Once you've got the stock ready (which takes 5 minutes of active work and 45 minutes of sitting on your butt), the soup comes together in under half an hour, again with about 10 minutes of active work. Dinner on the table with 15 minutes of real work is not a bad transaction.

Since there's so much flavor already built-in to our stock, not much else is required other than to make it a bit more specific to our needs. I sauté plenty of sliced garlic along with some chopped rosemary and onions to build up the flavor base. After that, all it takes is dumping in your beans and broth, simmering for a bit, adding spinach and a splash of lemon juice to brighten it up, and serving.

The real magic of the recipe is the way the starch released from the beans helps the extra-virgin olive oil (and do use your best extra virgin for this) to emulsify with the liquid, creating a rich, spoon-coating texture in no time at all.

Some may scoff at the use of canned beans instead of dried. Those folks are welcome to sit there with grumbly tummies while they wait for their beans to soak and soften while the rest of us dig in. Sometimes faster is better.