Friday, October 10, 2008

White bean garlic soup

Earlier this week, I received in the mail two books which I’d been putting off buying for quite some time. With reason, though—thanks to my Amazon credit card, I get Amazon gift certificates several times a year. The last few I had allotted to other things, but I’ve known for months what I’d be using the next one on: Vegan with a Vengeance and Veganomicon.

Ohh, yes. I’ve read recipes from and reviews of both on so many other blogs, and without exception, everyone gushes over these things. And I am here to add my name to the list. I know a cookbook is good when I actually sit down with it and read it like a book. I haven’t even cracked open Veganomicon yet, but I can tell you this: I’m 1/3 of the way through Vegan with a Vengeance and so far, there are only two recipes I don’t want to make. Uh-huh.

Figuring out where to start, though, was easy—the first time I opened Vegan with a Vengeance, I landed on the page for “Roasted Garlic and White Bean Soup.” BINGO. It probably couldn’t have targeted my tastes any better. It’s like it knows me. I made a few adjustments, but not many. I’ll show you the way I did it.

2 heads garlic (you read that right)
2T + 2 tsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tsp salt
Dash of pepper
1/2 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
1 tsp dried sage
2 vegan bouillon cubes
4 cups water
2 cans white beans, rinsed and drained
1 bay leaf
1T lemon juice

Can you believe that before this, I was a garlic-roasting virgin? I know, for shame, and me of all people. But it always seemed like too much trouble, and plus I like fresh garlic just fine as it is. But this recipe simply necessitates roasting. And it really is as simple as they all say it is: Tear off two pieces of foil. Scrape as much of the papery stuff off the garlic as you can. Use kitchen shears or a sharp knife to slice off the tops so that the ends of most of the cloves are exposed. Drizzle each head with 1 tsp olive oil, wrap tight separately in the foil, and put in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes. Done. There’s almost no way to mess it up—you can really have the oven anywhere between 350 and 400, and you can roast for anywhere from 25 to 45 minutes. And the results?

If only you could have smelled that. After you unwrap them, give them 5-10 minutes to cool off, or you’ll burn your fingers like I did. Then just squeeze those golden babies right out of their nests. And from here, the recipe’s a snap, and I’ll stop being so long-winded.

Heat the other 2T of oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 5-7 minutes, until soft. Add in the salt, pepper, and fennel seeds, and stir around for another minute or so.

I microwave the bouillon cubes in the water till they are able to dissolve. (You can also use 4 cups of vegetable broth instead.) Add the broth, beans, sage, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then turn heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.

Fish out the bay leaf and throw in that gorgeous garlic. At this point you can puree in batches in a blender, or you can go the easy route like me and use an immersion blender. I don’t use it often, but it really is a nice thing to have.

Puree the soup until it’s smooth. Add the lemon juice, more or less as you like.

And there you have it. Simple, pretty, and very tasty. Serve it with some crusty bread to soak it all up. My only warning: you better seriously love garlic.

Yield: 4 servings. Per serving: 323 calories, 9g fat (1.2g sat), 46.7g carbs, 11.4g fiber, 15.9g protein.

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