Just about every weekday, my cell phone rings at 3pm. The caller ID tells me that it’s my wife, but I know that it’s really Josh, who has just been picked up from school. Here’s one of the calls I recently received:
“Hey poppa, what’s for dinner?”
“Don’t know, Josh. Got any suggestions?”
“Yah. I was thinking soup.”
Good call. Since we live in the south, our fall comes pretty late in the year. Last week was the first time it’s gotten down to the 40s at night (and that has been unseasonably cold). As I’ve mentioned before, Josh is a huge fan of soups, and to be honest: when the air starts to crisp, so am I.
I didn’t have time to swing by the store to get anything to honor Josh’s soup request. Instead, I had to make do with what I had in the pantry. I usually have a can of great northern beans and a couple of potatoes kicking around. What I came up with was a garlic white bean soup:
1-1/2 cups cooked great northern beans (or other white beans)
1 small onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
2 cups cubed potatoes
3-4 large cloves of garlic, minced
3 cups water
3 cups chicken stock (or water, if you prefer)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
black pepper to taste
Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottomed pot. Add the onions and saute until they start to color slightly. Josh loves the taste of onions, but he is not really a fan of them in soups if he can see them on his spoon or feel them on his tongue. Cooking down the finely chopped onions has two goals then: color and camouflage.
Once the onions have colored, add the garlic. Saute for a few moments–ideally, you will get your garlic to “nutty” without going all the way to “bitter and brown.” Add the potatoes, water, stock, and salt. Bring to just under a boil and then lower to a simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes, then add your beans. A note on beans: by all means use dried beans instead of canned, if you have the time. If you do choose to use canned beans, drain and rinse them thoroughly. I find that’s a big help in eliminating any “tinny” taste. Continue simmering until the potatoes are fully cooked, about another 15 minutes. Add freshly ground pepper to taste, and adjust the salt, if needed.
It’s a pretty crummy picture, I know, but a very tasty soup, particularly when you have next to nothing in the pantry. The only thing I would add, next time, is a nice, crusty loaf of bread to go with it.