Soups to Make at Home: Creamy Cannellini Beans with Arugula

Here’s a creamy soup, without the cream. Puréed beans and white miso contribute a rich smoothness, diced vegetables provide texture and color, and julienned arugula, tossed in at the very end, adds spicy freshness. Dried cannellini beans freshly cooked may yield a marginally tastier soup, but quality canned beans will do the job nicely. You’ll have a greater chance of making a soup that rises above the ordinary if you give a bit of extra time and attention to seasoning at the final stage.  Add seasonings in small increments. Taste, and taste again. Even you may be surprised by how well your soup turns out! Find my recipe after the jump.

Quality organic products are more and more available. Top row: organic beans from Safeway. Bottom row: beans from Eden, a highly-respected natural foods brand, available in natural foods stores and some supermarkets.

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CREAMY CANNELLINI BEAN SOUP WITH ARUGULA

6-8 servings

4 cups cooked cannellini beans (start with 2 cups dried beans, or 2 15-ounce cans of organic beans)

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 large carrot, diced

1 medium sweet potato (10-12 ounces), peeled and diced

1 large onion, peeled and diced

1 stalk celery or one small fennel bulb, diced

5-6 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon dried Italian or French herb blend

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

6 cups  water

2, 3, or 4 teaspoons umeboshi vinegar (to taste)

salt and freshly-ground black pepper (to taste)

1/4 cup white miso (or to taste)

squeeze of fresh lemon juice

1 cup (lightly packed)  julienned arugula (2-3 ounces)

1. Heat the olive oil in a roomy thick-bottomed soup pot. Sauté the onions, carrots, sweet potato, garlic and celery over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes. Add the dried herbs and a pinch of salt. Then add the nutritional yeast and the water.

2. Bring this just to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer about 20 minutes or until the veggies are very tender, at this point, turn the heat to very low.

3. Meanwhile, purée the beans with a cup of their cooking liquid in a blender or food processor until smooth and creamy. Scoop out some stock from the soup if there’s not enough bean cooking liquid to facilitate a smooth purée.

4. Add the puréed beans to the veggies, along with the white miso and umeboshi vinegar.

5. Check seasoning, adding salt, pepper, miso, lemon juice or umeboshi vinegar as needed.

6. Finally, add the chopped arugula, cover and let sit for 3-4 minutes.  Serve.

Garnish: chopped fresh parsley, if you like, but the arugula almost serves as a garnish itself.

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Sautéing the veggies. You could skip this step and go directly to simmering the veggies in water. But I think sautéing caramelizes the veggies, and therefore adds another layer of flavor.

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