December 30, 2008

White Bean, Carrot, and Roasted Garlic Soup

Okay, so I did end up changing my whole blog template. I found a bunch of cute backgrounds, so I may be switching it up from time to that I know there are adorable choices out there! Moving on...

This recipe has been marked to try for about 4 weeks now. I kept pushing it back, since I kept forgetting to soak my dried white beans. Well, I looked at the package last night and realized that the dried white beans expired on 12/04/08! Yikes!!! I need to use those beans! I don't think it will make much difference that they are a little past their expiration date, but I don't want to hang on to them for much longer either. Even though I wanted to use the beans today, I still forgot to soak them. It suddenly occurred to me at about 11:30pm last night. I actually got up from bed and put the beans on to soak. I checked them this morning and they are finally usable. Whew!
This is my first vegetarian offering for this week, and I am excited to try it out. Here is a tangent: I did a short calculation last night and realized that by supplementing three vegetarian meals per week, I am conservatively saving about $6 per week in food costs. I calculated the cost of protein items (i.e. meat) vs. the cost of vegetarian ingredients, and estimated it was about a $2 per meal savings. That means over a whole year I will save an extra $312 per year. I will be rich! Okay...not really...but I thought that that was an interesting way to save money.

This recipe is the from Pasta & Co. Encore cookbook. I really like that there are a bunch of healthy choices in this cookbook that still sound tasty. The only downside so far is that I can't find the recipe online, so I need to type the whole thing out. Ugh. I hate typing full recipes...cutting and pasting is much, much easier. I did adapt the recipe to suit my needs, but it is pretty much the same...just rewritten a little. Oh well, I will let you know how it turns out.

White Bean, Carrot, and Roasted Garlic Soup

1 1/2 cups of dried white beans
1/2 to 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary
2 to 4 teaspoons of salt
1 1/2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil
1/2 large onion, diced into 1/2 inch pieces
2 cloves pressed or minced garlic
2 1/4 cups of peeled, chopped carrots
2 average-sized heads of roasted garlic
3 cups of vegetable stock or chicken stock (use more if needed)
1/2 to 1 1/2 teaspoons of Tabasco sauce
water to cover carrots

Soak and cook beans with rosemary according to package directions. Add salt when beans are almost tender (toward end of cooking; NOT during the beginning). Continue cooking until very tender. Drain beans and reserve. Roast garlic and set aside (See Jen's Notes).

Place olive oil and onions in a separate pot, over medium-low heat. Cover to sweat and become golden brown, about 15 minutes. Add 2 cloves of pressed/minced garlic and cook an additional 2 minutes (do not burn). Add carrots and just enough water to cover. Cover with lid and boil just until carrots are tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat. While carrots are cooking squeeze roasted garlic out and reserve separately.

Take the carrot mixture and their cooking liquid, half of the cooked beans, and the roasted garlic meat, and place in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Puree Until smooth. Return to the pot.
ALTERNATE METHOD: Add half the beans and garlic meat to the the carrot pot and puree smooth by using an immersion blender.

Stir in stock,other half of beans, salt and pepper to taste, and Tabasco to taste. If the soup is too thick, add additional stock or water and adjust seasoning if needed.

Jen's Notes:
To roast garlic:
1) Preheat the oven to 400°F.
2) Peel away the outer layers of the garlic bulb skin, leaving the skins of the individual cloves intact. Using a knife, cut off 1/4 to a 1/2 inch of the top of cloves, exposing the individual cloves of garlic.
3) Place the garlic heads in a baking pan; muffin pans work well for this purpose. Drizzle a couple teaspoons of olive oil over each head, using your fingers to make sure the garlic head is well coated. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 400°F for 30-35 minutes, or until the cloves feel soft when pressed.
4) Allow the garlic to cool enough so you can touch it without burning yourself. Use a small small knife cut the skin slightly around each clove. Use a cocktail fork or your fingers to pull or squeeze the roasted garlic cloves out of their skins.

The Result:
This was good...but it was missing something. I think acid, because it was almost too creamy in flavor. The texture of the soup itself was satisfying (i.e. not overly creamy), but the flavor was very one-note. I am not even sure how to accurately describe it. The flavor kinda coated the tongue with creaminess??? It just needs to be more savory. I guess that is a good analogy. I garnished it with Parmesan, but that really did not help much either. Then, I added a little champagne vinegar to see if that would do the trick. It helped some, but it wasn't exactly what was needed. Overall, this is a good, filling soup...I just need to play around with the flavors. Maybe cayenne pepper, instead of Tabasco and some white wine right before the carrots are added. I am not sure. I have some leftover, so I will play around with it tomorrow for lunch. If it does not improve tomorrow, I don't think I will make this soup again.

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