Fast bean soup
By Jessica – January 15th, 2006
Nothing beats a steamy bowl of bean soup on a cold winter’s day. There is certainly great satisfaction to be found in soaking your own beans and making the type of soup that needs to simmer away on the stovetop for hours before it’s ready to eat.
But what if you don’t have the time or energy to embark on a major soup-making project? Or what if you decide on the spur of the moment (as I generally do) that you want to have bean soup for lunch - right now?
In cases such as this, you can open up a tin of bean soup and chuck it in a pan, or you can open up a tin of beans and make your own quick and easy bean soup. The bean soup that I like to make is based on the “Bean Soup from Tuscany” recipe in a cookbook called The Feast of the Olive. There are countless recipes for “Tuscan bean soup”, but what makes this one stand out for me is the addition of lemon juice, which really brightens up the taste of the soup.
- 2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cans (410g each) cannellini or other white beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- about 2 cups broth (vegetable or chicken)
- 2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, chopped
- juice of 1/2 a lemon (or to taste)
Heat the oil and bay leaves in a large pot over medium heat, then add the beans and toss to coat them in the oil. Add the oregano and enough broth to cover the beans. Simmer this for as long as you like - longer is better, but you can get away with just 15 minutes or so if you’re hungry.
Either remove the bay leaves and puree the beans as much as you like, or just mash the beans up a bit with a spoon. Add the garlic, parsley and lemon juice and simmer for another 5-10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then serve with more olive oil.
The nifty thing about this soup is its versatility. When it’s cold out, you can serve a giant bowl of it doused with olive oil, dusted with parmesan and accompanied by a big loaf of crusty, buttery bread; but when it’s warm out, you could serve a small cup of it as a starter, garnished with the lightest drizzle of fine olive oil and perhaps a tiny sliver of lemon and a sprig of bright parsley. Either way, leguminous pleasures await you.