The base recipe for this one comes from my friend Jennifer L., but I made a few changes of my own, based on what I had hanging around the house. This soup is a quick one to whip up, and has a lovely, fresh Meditterranean flavor.
You’ve probably noticed by now that I am a die-hard for cooking my own dried beans, instead of using canned. They just taste better, fresher, and you can season them to your own preference. In this case, I used some gorgeous Marrow Beans from Rancho Gordo. Marrow beans cook up with a buttery creaminess that is perfect for pureed soup. While the beans don’t have a lot of distinctive flavor of their own, they gladly soak up whatever you cook them with – in this case, I simmered them with carrot, onion, garlic and bay leaf.
The original recipe called for fresh basil, but being winter, I substituted a great big handful of parsley, which seemed to complement the beans perfectly. To finish the soup, I added the zest and juice of one Meyer Lemon, which brightened the earthy flavor of the beans, and gave the soup a very spring-like flavor. And who can’t use a little taste of spring on a blisteringly cold winter day?!
A note on Meyer Lemons: Meyer Lemons are one of my very favorite fruits. The season is very short. The yellow-orange orbs start showing up at Whole Foods in mid-December, and I can usually get them until the end of January. They are less acidic, a bit sweeter and juicier than regular lemons, but they have a mysterious perfume to them that is unlike other citrus – almost like a cross between lemon and tangerine. Meyer Lemon sorbet is one of my favorite winter desserts (stay tuned for that one).
Next time I make this soup, I might skip the artichokes altogether…I can’t quite place the flavor of them in the final soup, and I think the flavor of the beans, stock, lemon and parsley are tasty enough on their own.
White Bean & Artichoke Soup
4 Weight Watchers Points per serving
2 jars artichoke hearts in water (10 oz jars) – drained
1/2 lb dried white beans, cooked and drained
1 T olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1 small onion, diced
1 T fresh sage, minced
1 stalk celery, diced
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1/2 cup minced parsley
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp dried celery leaves (optional)
Juice of one Meyer Lemon, plus zest (use regular lemons if Meyers are out of season)
salt to taste
- Heat a large soup pot over medium heat. Add olive oil, onion, garlic, celery and sage and saute until onions are translucent and softened, about 8-10 minutes.
- Add artichokes, beans, chicken stock, red pepper to pot, and bring to a simmer. Add minced parsley and stir.
- Transfer soup to a blender in batches (have a second large bowl standing by to pour soup into). Puree the soup until very smooth, making sure that you vent the top of the blender, and cover the vent with a paper towel to prevent splatters. Transfer pureed soup to large bowl. Puree the rest of the soup, and then transfer the soup back to the soup pot, with the burner set to low heat.
- Taste the soup, and add salt as needed. Add the lemon zest and lemon juice, stir, make any final seasoning adjustment, and serve.