Full of Bean Soup

You might remember me mentioning my so-called organizational system for recipes that I get from my somewhat ridiculous number of magazine subscriptions. I have a list that I maintain that I tag with the issue and page info, as well as some basic search criteria to help me find the recipes later. For example, I’d tag an apple pie recipe dessert, sweet, apples, fruit, pie, tart, fall, so that next time I have apples and am wondering what to do with them, I can see all the recipes that I thought looked good. It’s a pretty simple system, which is good because anything that would be complicated just won’t get used in the first place. I’d see recipes and forget to log them and they would be lost in the bookshelves and boxes forever. Over the past year, I’ve tagged over 300 recipes that looked tempting enough for me to notice and want to come back to.

The problem, however, is that the list grows and grows each month. And I’ve cooked from the list, oh, some number of times that I can probably count with my shoes still on, and maybe even a hand in a pocket. I almost always forget about the recipe list when I get to craving something, and reach instead for one of my also-too-many cookbook titles. After my last session of inputting recipes (I tend to queue them up for a month and have a data entry marathon), I decided that I need to change this pattern of perpetually adding and never taking away. It is, I realize, a pretty futile attempt since each month I can easily add 30 new recipes and I know I’ll never cook that many in the same time period… the list will certainly always be growing larger and more daunting. Still, I feel like I should at least try to keep it in check.

Last week, when summer vanished here in Seattle, and I got the craving for soup, I knew where I’d be starting my search. It would begin with the list. I had 10 soups already tagged (plus more coming with the recent issue of Sunset magazine), but there really was not much struggle in finding what I wanted to make. I knew, even before I had typed the oup into the search box that I wanted bean soup. White bean soup. And luckily, I had two white bean soup recipes on the list. A white bean soup with chile paste, found in Bon Appetit, and a Donna Hay white bean soup with chorizo. Both looked lovely, and I decided to go with the Donna Hay recipe and use some Italian sausage from Skagit River Ranch in place of the chorizo.

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This soup is creamy (without cream) and hearty, perfect comfort food for a chilly fall evening. It’s delicious with sausage, but just as lovely without, perhaps with a drizzle of truffle oil. For the beans, I used dried cannellini beans, and just soaked in water them for about 4 hours before starting the soup. Borlotti or cranberry beans are a great choice too, or really any kind of shelling bean. If you use a smaller bean, it may need to soak and cook for less time.

That’s one recipe down, 330 and counting to go…

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White Bean Soup with Sausage
Adapted from Donna Hay issue #33, p 104

Soup
2 T olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 stalk of celery, sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 lb cannellini beans, fresh or rehydrated
4 cups chicken stock
salt & pepper to taste

optional toppings
1 red chile pepper, seeds removed, and finely chopped
truffle oil
crispy sausage (see below)

Heat a large soup pot on medium heat. Add the oil, onion, garlic and celery, and stir about 2-3 minutes or until they are translucent. Try not to brown the onion. Add the beans and stock, and bring to a boil, stirring to ensure the beans don’t stick to the bottom. Reduce the heat to get a very low rolling boil, almost more of a simmer, cover and let cook for about 1 hour, or until the beans are very soft. Stir the soup occasionally during this time.

The next step is to blend the soup. If you have one, use a hand blender. It’s easier than taking the soup out of the pot. Otherwise, a food processor or standing blender will work too. Puree the until it is smooth. Then, place the soup back into the pot, and season to tase. Continue to cook, uncovered, until it’s the thickness you want. While it’s continuing to cook, prepare the sausage, if desired.

To serve, ladle the soup into the bowl, and top as desired. The soup is great with one, or any combination of the topping above.

Crispy Sausage

For the sausage slices, use a flavorful cased sausage like a spicy Italian or a chorizo. Cook the sausage through first, so it can be sliced. Then, slice to rounds, on a bias, a little less than 1/2 inch thick. Heat a skillet with a small splash of olive oil over high heat. Add the sausage and cook for about 2 minutes on each side, or until browned and crispy.

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  • http://www.trialsnerror.blogspot.com Nabeela

    I have more than 500 recipes marked up to cook from…I know it’s futile but I still keep adding…*sigh*
    The good thing is I’ve made at least 100+ recipes from my collection…but I keep adding 30 more every month just like you!

  • http://lickyourownbowl.wordpress.com Robyn Vickers

    Oh, don’t we all just suffer from the same problem! So much food, so little time and half the time we end up longing for something Mum used to make anyway. Well, well done on being so very organised. Something for us all to aspire to. One day, One Day I’m going to tackle that pile of hand-written and tear out recipes sitting in a pile, of no particular order, in a file in my cupboard. One day … but for now I’m going to oggle your soup pictures and think of what to make for dinner…

  • http://caseyellis.blogspot.com Casey

    I love reading about other people’s attemepts to tame the “Untried but Appealig Recipes” beast. ow, of course, I must add this bean soup recipe to *my* list.

  • http://caseyellis.blogspot.com Casey

    and what happened to my n key in the above: Appealing Now

  • http://aapplemint.blogspot.com/ Kate

    saw these photos on flickr first and fell in love with it right away. Really nice presentation.

  • http://chewonthatblog.com Hillary

    What a great looking soup that seems perfect for ushering in the fall! Mmm…

  • http://desertcandy.blogspot.com Mercedes

    I totally feel you on the overwhelming amount of recipes one can amass. At a certain point I have a rule that for each one added one must be deleted. However, anything from that donna hay issue is sure to remain at the top of my list.

  • Kathleen

    OMG!!! I made this soup last night (sans truffle oil) and used regular hot breakfast sausage in place of the spicy italian/chorizo and just cooked it up into crumbles. But I have to say my rendition was still AMAZING!!!! My girlfriend was over & she had already eaten dinner & just had to try some! My husband thought it was WONDERFUL!!! And I have to agree. Such wonderful texture & flavor!!

    I did make a few additions to the recipe — I used 3 stalks of organic celery & used 3 or more cloves of garlic. I used organic, dried cannellini beans as well. Other than that, it is such a simple & wonderful soup to make. Served it with baby arugula dressed with a simlple olive oil, fresh garlic & rice wine vinegarette & served with crusty italian bread. What a simple, yet really flavorful & filling meal! Thank you!!!

  • http://thehungerseattle.blogspot.com Stephen

    Sounds perfect for the weather we’re having. I just love Skagit Rivers Ranch’s sausages. I wish they still came to the Cap Hill market.

  • http://almostvegetarian.blogspot.com almost vegetarian

    I’m so impressed that you are so organized about your recipes. I try to tag them, too, but my tastes change over time, so the tags become worthless (as in I can’t believe I tagged that – or – I can’t believe I didn’t tag that!).

    I review my tags ever year or two, but with more and more books coming in, I’m just getting hopelessly out of date here. Ah well, the fun is in the running to keep up!

    Cheers!

  • http://www.franceprofonde.blogspot.com Betty C.

    I’ve been “tagging” recipes like that since 1990, just in a spiral notebook. It does help when I think “I want to make something with X ingredient.” I have only tagged magazine recipes, though, not cookbook recipes. That would be a huge undertaking…

  • http://www.ramblemagazine.com Christina

    My goal (one among many goals) is to be just as organized as you. However, the constantly growing list of bookmarks and the mountain of Post-it notes prove that I am far from this particular goal. But since you’ve already organized your recipes, I’ll think I just make your bean soup. Sounds fantastic on this chilly day.

  • http://www.passionatepalate.blogspot.com Jeni

    Yum…you are right -the perfect fall soup. I find that I collect far more recipes than I will ever have time to make. But they are all inspirations aren’t they?

  • http://divineambrosia.blogspot.com Annemarie

    Ah, from the divine Donna Hay – your pictures do her recipe justice. I love bean based soups, and this looks fab (the chorizo is hard to turn down). And I thoroughly, thoroughly admire your recipe organizing. :)

  • http://thsstonesoup.com jules

    Wow I’d never even though to try and get a process for organising my recipes…I just go with randomness but you’ve inspired me to get some structure… thanks..loving the look of that soup too

  • http://www.aminglingoftastes.com Julie O’Hara

    I really love this, because it’s ingredients I use often, but in different ways. I love white beans in soup, but I never puree them (they’re sooo good with truffle oil), and the sausage on top is perfect. I’m going to try it this way.
    Julie

  • http://lemurware.blogspot.com Walter Korman

    This sounds incredible. I’m going to try it ASAP.

  • http://play-with-food.blogspot.com Deborah Dowd

    Since my husband is diabetic, beans are becoming a big part of our diet and thise recipe looks delicious. I guess I’ll have to bite the bullet and get some truffle oil!

  • http://www.mycookinghut.com mycookinghut

    Love your photos!