Simple and homey are two words I would use to describe my White Bean and Vegetable Soup. Plenty of carrots, celery, and onion add lots of flavor while the buttery white beans add a hint of sweetness and creaminess.
If you take a stroll through the bulk section of the grocery store (or, if you are Winco, pummel) you may see multiple varieties of beans that are white with many different names, such as white kidney beans, cannellini beans, fazolia beans, navy beans, haricot beans, and Boston beans. Any of these would work for this recipe. Some of these names describe the same beans. My preference is to use navy beans. My palate is not refined enough to tell the difference between the flavors but I do like the texture and size of the navy beans for this stew.
Canned beans can easily be substituted for dried beans. I do love the ease of canned beans in most recipes. If you using canned or dried beans, I would still let everything simmer for a period of time. 3-4 cans of drained and rinsed beans may be used in place of the dried beans.
I use vegetable stock but plain, old water would work just as well. Chicken stock would be a tasty substitution. A combination of stock and water could also be used to add the flavor the stock while keeping the cost down.
I enjoy my bean soup to be extra thick and chunky, hence I named it a stew. If you would like something with more of a soup consistency, please add more liquid.
My favorite herb to pair with white beans is rosemary. The earthy, pine flavor and scent balances the sweet, mellowness of the white beans. I just did not have any rosemary on hand, otherwise it would have made its way into the soup pot.
I think the cayenne pepper is an important element. I do not add enough to make the stew spicy, I just add enough to balance the sweetness of the vegetables and beans. How much cayenne is needed to accomplish this and is very personal so I would let each person season their own bowl to taste.
P.S. This stew freezes very well and can easily be doubled. The recipe makes enough soup to feed me for two days plus leftovers for the freezer. Enjoy!
White Bean and Vegetable Stew
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow or white onion, diced
3-4 carrots, peeled and diced finely
3-4 stalks celery, diced finely
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups dried navy beans
6 cups vegetable, chicken stock, water or a combination, more as needed
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Ground cayenne to taste
- If desired, soak the dried beans overnight. Change the water several times.
- Heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a large stock pot. Add the onion, season with lots of black pepper, and cook until soft, about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the carrots, celery, and garlic. Cook until tender, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the beans and liquid, and stir to mix. Bring the mixture to a boil then turn the heat down to medium-low and let simmer 1 1/4-1/34 hours, until the beans are tender.
- If desired, place 1/3 of the soup in a large bowl and carefully mash with a potato masher or use a food processor (please, be careful when processing hot food) until the mixture is chunky. Add back to the pot and mix. Simmer another 10 minutes then serve.