Meatless Monday: Garlicky White Bean Soup

This entry was posted on Jan 15, 2018 by Charlotte Bell.

Garlicky White Bean Soup

Do you like garlic? Do you love the warm, savory fragrance of garlic lingering in your kitchen long after the meal is over? If so, this soup is for you.

This recipe comes from the always-reliable Mollie Katzen, author of the classic Moosewood Cookbook and many, many others. This soup is featured in Katzen’s beautiful hardbound book, Heart of the Plate. The book highlights recipes that reflect the current trend of less cheesy and less glutinous vegetarian fare. Katzen’s recipes are always well balanced and flavorful. This one is no exception.

I followed the recipe below faithfully except for the fact that I cooked the beans and veggies in a pressure cooker. If you’ve stayed away from pressure cooking because of scary stories about your grandma’s exploding pressure cooker, I encourage you to face your fears and revisit the idea of using one. Pressure cookers are a LOT better and safer than they were in your grandma’s day. And if beans are a regular source of protein in your diet, pressure cooking can cut the time way down.

If you choose to pressure cook the beans to save time, skip step 2 and follow these instructions instead:

  1. Add the beans to your pressure cooker with the water, garlic clove halves and rosemary and a tablespoon of oil (to prevent foaming that can clog the pressure valve). Bring the pressure cooker to high pressure and follow this chart to determine the correct amount of time needed.
  2. Please remember NEVER to take the lid off your pressure cooker while it’s under pressure. When the time is up, let the cooker return to regular pressure naturally. It will take 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. The tricky thing about pressure cooking is that you can’t monitor how much things are cooking because you can’t lift the lid and have a look. I usually err on the side of undercooking when I want the beans to be intact, which I did for this soup. You can always soften them further by continuing to cook them the regular way, on the stovetop without the pressure cooker lid, until they’re done. If you overcook them, they’ll end up being a sludgy mess. Of course, this is fine if you’re making hummus out of them, but if you want the beans to retain their shape, use the quicker times listed in the chart.
  4. Return to step 3 in the instructions below.

Meatless Monday: Creamy Tuscan-Style White Bean Soup

  • 1-1/2 pounds dried white beans (cannellini, great northern or navy beans), soaked
  • 8 cups water
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
  • 2-inch sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 head roasted garlic (here’s how)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-1/2 cup minced onion
  • 1 medium carrot, diced small
  • big pinch of rubbed sage (I used a heaping teaspoon of fresh sage)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of minced or crushed garlic
  • black pepper
  • fried sage leaves for garnish (optional)
  1. Either soak the beans overnight or use the quick-soak method. Here’s how: after picking through the dried beans and removing any weird ones—or any small stones—place them in a pan with enough water to cover by at least 2 inches. Bring to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes. Then let them sit for 2 to 4 hours.
  2. Drain and rinse the soaked beans, then transfer them to a large soup pot along with the water, garlic clove halves and the rosemary. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer and cook partially covered for an hour, until soft. (Great northern and navy beans will take longer than cannellini.) Fish out the rosemary, leaving the garlic in the pot, and let cool to room temperature.
  3. Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves directly into the soup, discarding the skins. Use an immersion blender to purée the soup to your desired consistency, or blend in batches in a stand blender. Return to the soup pot, if necessary, and gently reheat.
  4. Meanwhile, place a medium skillet over medium heat for about a minute. Then add the olive oil and swirl it around to coat the pan. Add the onion, carrot, sage and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook for about 3 minutes, until the onion begins to soften. Stir in the minced or crushed garlic and another 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Turn the heat to medium-low and cook for another 10 minutes or so until the onion is translucent and the carrots are soft.
  5. Add the veggies to the soup mixture and cook over very low heat (use a diffuser if you have one) for another 10-15 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.
  6. Adjust the salt and add pepper to taste.
  7. I topped the soup with fried sage leaves the first time I served it, but served it without the sage leaves on subsequent days. It was warming and wonderful either way.
About Charlotte Bell
Charlotte Bell discovered yoga in 1982 and began teaching in 1986. Charlotte is the author of Mindful Yoga, Mindful Life: A Guide for Everyday Practice and Yoga for Meditators, both published by Rodmell Press. Her third book is titled Hip-Healthy Asana: The Yoga Practitioner’s Guide to Protecting the Hips and Avoiding SI Joint Pain (Shambhala Publications). She writes a monthly column for CATALYST Magazine and serves as editor for Yoga U Online. Charlotte is a founding board member for GreenTREE Yoga, a non-profit that brings yoga to underserved populations. A lifelong musician, Charlotte plays oboe and English horn in the Salt Lake Symphony and folk sextet Red Rock Rondo, whose DVD won two Emmy awards in 2010.