Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Lemony Beans and Greens Soup with Pesto

Lemony Beans and Greens Soup with Pesto

I cook a big pot of something on Sunday evenings and have it for lunch at work all week.  A couple of weeks ago I wanted a soup with white beans and kale and lots of lemon, and surprisingly couldn't find a recipe like that, so I had to improvise.  I kept track of my ingredients and process while cooking and it was SO INCREDIBLY DELICIOUS that I had to share the recipe.  I looked forward to lunch all week.  The lemon works really well, and the pesto is an incredible addition.  It also answers one of my perpetual questions:  what to do with pesto that doesn't involve pasta.

I am not a food photographer, so it doesn't look as good as it tasted.  You're just going to have to take my word for it.  I promise you won't be disappointed.

Lemony Beans and Greens Soup with Pesto
Makes 6-8 servings

1 pound dried white beans (canellini, navy, etc.), soaked
3 bay leaves
1  tsp dried rosemary
or 3 15.5 oz cans white beans

2 tsp olive oil
3-5 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
(The mushrooms are optional, but they add a nice chewy texture and umami flavor to the bowl)

2 tsp olive oil
2 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced
3 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, one thinly sliced and one grated
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
3-5 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 medium tomatoes, diced, or 1 14.5 oz can whole or diced tomatoes
1-2 cups dry white wine (I used flat Prosecco)
Zest and juice of 2 medium lemons or 3 small lemons
1/2 tsp dried red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 tsp dried rosemary, if not added to beans
3 bay leaves, if not added to beans
1 tsp dried thyme
1 large bunch kale, rinsed and chopped
salt and ground black pepper to taste

For the Pesto (theoretically the pesto is optional, but it really makes the soup):
1 large bunch basil (I bought the 4 oz box at the grocery store)
1-2 Tbsp pine nuts, dry toasted
3 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp (or more) grated parmesan and/or romano cheese
3 cloves garlic

Drain and rinse the soaked beans.  Cover with water by 3 inches, add 3 bay leaves and 1 tsp dried rosemary.  Simmer until until tender but not fully cooked (the interior of the beans will still be grainy), about 45 minutes to an hour.  Remove from heat and drain off most of the water (this keeps the beans from continuing to cook).

Heat a heavy soup pan, like a Le Crueset,  over medium-high heat (level 6-7).  Pour in 2 tsp olive oil and add the shiitake mushrooms.  Saute until the mushrooms give up their juice and then begin to brown.  When mushrooms are browned, remove from pan and set aside.

Reduce heat on heavy pan to medium low (level 4).  Pour in additional 2 tsp olive oil and add the sliced onions.  Saute on medium low until the onions turn light brown and begin to caramelize, about 8-12 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a skillet to medium-high (level 7), or preheat toaster oven to 375 degrees.  Toast pine nuts in skillet, shaking frequently, about 2 minutes until they begin to brown.  If using toaster oven, check after 2 minutes and shake pan; they should take no more than 3 minutes to toast.  Pine nuts burn very quickly!

Pull the basil leaves off the stems.

At this point the onions should be lightly caramelized.  Add the chopped celery, sliced and grated carrot, and red pepper flakes.

Saute about 3 minutes, then add the bell pepper, garlic, and tomato.  Let cook until the tomato begins to break down, about another 4 minutes.

Add the wine, lemon zest and juice, thyme, and rosemary and bay leaves if not used with the beans.  Pour in the mostly cooked beans (or drained, rinsed canned beans) and add enough water to reach the top of the beans.  You can use stock if you'd like, but I found this plenty flavorful with just water.  Add the chopped kale on top of the beans and cover.

Let steam until the kale begins to wilt, 3-4 minutes, then stir in the kale.  Cook until beans are done and kale is preferred consistency (longer=less chewy).  I cooked about another 20 minutes, but probably should have stopped at 15.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  I found this needed surprisingly little salt.

While the soup finishes cooking, in the bowl of a mini-food processor, layer as many basil leaves as will fit, the garlic cloves, 1/2 the cheese, 1/2 the pine nuts, and pour 1/2 the olive oil over the top.  Run the processor until the pesto is finely chopped, adding the remaining basil leaves, pine nuts, cheese, and olive oil as the pesto compresses.  Taste the pesto and adjust cheese, nuts, and/or garlic as preferred.


Place some of the sauteed mushrooms in the bottom of the bowl, ladle hot soup over the mushrooms (they get soggy if mixed in, though I deal with this for lunches at work).  Add a generous spoonful of pesto on top and stir in--the pesto is best the less it is cooked, so only add the pesto at the end right before eating.

The basil in pesto oxidizes into an unappealing black mash very quickly, and it does best in the freezer.  For work, I put the pesto in a container and divided it into wedges by running a spatula through it, one for each serving.  I froze it overnight so the wedge divisions would stay in place during transport.  I kept it in the work freezer all week, adding one frozen wedge each day after my soup came out of the microwave.

This will taste very lemony right out of the pan, but the lemon flavor dissipates over time.  If you're serving right away, add half the lemon juice as instructed and then adjust the lemon flavor at the end with the remaining lemon juice to taste.  If you're going to have leftovers, add all the lemon juice as directed.


You can make this a little more quick and easy by using commercial ingredients:
-canned beans
-canned tomatoes
-bottled lemon juice
-bagged chopped kale
-pre-made pesto


cidell said...

That sounds yummy. I look forward to you making it for me...

Hoosiermama said...

So surprised to open your blog and find a recipe. I'm going to print it and probably try it, 'cause I love me some soup, but it looks like it would take all afternoon, and I gotta ask, how do you find the time to sew and work AND cook?

Clio said...

Mmmmm... it's soup weather in the northeast! Sounds delicioso!

Linda said...

Looks good to me. I saved the recipe in case I get adventuresome and try to make it.

Little Hunting Creek said...

This is just the kind of soup that I love. Thank you!

Nancy K said...

It sounds delicious. A tip, soaking beans gets you at most 15 minutes less cooking time. I no longer soak even chickpeas and they take no longer to cook than when I soaked them.

McVal said...

YUM. I made a huge crock pot full of ham and beans on Sunday too! But that's all that was in it. Strictly ham and beans (from dried) , well, with some chicken broth too... Then you serve it with white vinegar. Exactly like my mom used to make! I'm having it for lunch all week because no one else in the house will touch it after the first day. Those beans are too potent...

Mrs. Micawber said...

Wow, it sounds great. Thanks for notating while cooking!

I like to put pesto on eggs; sometimes I spread it onto yeast dough (with extra shredded cheese), then roll the dough, slice like cinnamon rolls, and bake. And I love to eat it straight from the spoon. :)

Summer Flies said...

Yummy! Love white beans. I make my own pesto (often not with pine nuts but with cashews or walnuts) and use it as base for pizza, on toast with crackers, as a dip.. lots of uses. I always keep a jar in the fridge as it is my 'emergency dinner' - for those Sunday nights after doing lots and not feeling like cooking.

Bloody Merry said...

I love beans so much that I grow my own: more than 100 plants every summer. They're really easy in containers too

Kate said...

Yum! I was home for 10 days due to holidays, snow days, and sick days (for my kid). One day back in the real world and now I"m sick. I made this soup (using all the shortcuts) today and am loving it. Thanks for some brightness!

emadethis said...

What a great soup for a chilly day! I literally made something nearly identical for lunch today, but I made the pesto from kale and parsley because that's what I had on hand.

Rosie said...

Sounds yummy! Thanks for sharing the recipe! When I make pesto, I freeze the extra as "pesto cubes" and store them in a freezer bag.

Joy said...

Very nice! I'm always looking for pasta-less pesto ideas, too.

Trumbelina said...

You had me at lemons.

catspec said...

Excellent....not I get to learn not only sewing but new recipes from your blog!!!! AWESOME looking soup - especially today as it is snowing outside and piling up....:)