Quality Comes First! White Bean Puree with Fried Sage….Get Ready to Knock Your Socks Off!
Although I constantly focus on the health benefits provided in the dishes I cook, I’d like to highlight that it’s very important to be working with quality ingredients so you can truly take advantage of the nutrients fresh foods provide while rewarding yourself with a super tasty meal. A fresh carrot straight from the ground is packed with so many more nutrients than the prepackaged, pre-cut carrots found in a jar of water that you pick up at a large chain grocery store. This is something I’ve known, but it wasn’t until I started reading Eat Good Food, by Sam Mogannam and Dabney Gough, owners of Bi-Rite Market in San Francisco, that I understood there is an art to recognizing quality groceries.
The other day I wanted to test out a delicious looking soup recipe from Eat Good Food that calls for cannellini beans. Beans are a very inexpensive item and are packed with protein and fiber, help to reduce blood sugar levels and help with weight loss. Prior to picking up beans at the market, I made sure I was buying the best quality out there. Here are a few tips to recognize quality when you’re buying canned or dried beans, compliments of Eat Good Food.
- If you buy canned beans, make sure they’re organic. This is both for your own health as well as the farmers who grew them.
- Buy brands that specialize in beans and grains. You may pay a few pennies more for these beans, but it’s definitely worth it. Your taste buds will thank you later.
- Look for heirloom or unusual varieties.
- Freshness is important. Try to buy beans from retailers that have high turnover with their beans. This way you know they haven’t been sitting on the shelves forever.
- Take a look to see they’re in good shape. If you’re buying from bulk, make sure there aren’t many broken beans.
- With canned beans, be sure to rinse and drain them well before using to remove the extra salt and get rid of the slippery packing liquid.
Now onto the recipe! This soup is a big two thumbs up and can be made with canned beans for dried beans, depending on how much time you have on your hands.The original recipe comes for Eat Good Food.
White Bean Puree with Fried Sage
Makes 8 cups
You can use cannellini beans or white navy beans in this soup. I chose the cannellinis for this go around because they’re larger and have comparatively less skin, so they produce a creamier soup.
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
4 large sage leaves, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 bay leaf
6 cups of veggie stock
3 cups of cooked cannellini beans or white navy beans (equivalent to two 15oz cans, drained and rinsed)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice, more as needed
If you’re cooking the beans from scratch, you’ll want to put them in a large bowl of water and soak them for at least four hours. Try to change the water at least once. Then you can transfer the beans to a pot of water, add some salt and cook them on high for 45 minutes. Make sure they stay covered in water and add more as necessary.
Once you have your beans ready, or using canned, get a large (8 quart) pot, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the celery and carrot and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until they are somewhat soft, about 10 minutes. Add the sage, garlic, and bay leaf and continue to cook for 2 more minutes, or until aromatic.
Add the stock and beans, 2 teaspoons salt, a few grinds of black pepper. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring just to a boil, then lower the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Continue to cook, uncovered, until the vegetables are completely soft and have started to break down a bit, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
To finish the soup, remove and discard the bay leaf and, working in batches, carefully puree the soup in a blender or food processor. If you prefer thinner soup, add up to 2 cups more broth to adjust the thickness.
Stir in the lemon juice and taste. Adjust with more lemon juice, salt or pepper as needed and reheat as necessary.
To garnish, heat up a little olive oil in a small skillet and add some sage leaves, a few at a time. Fry just until bright green (15 to 30 seconds), and then transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
Now you can divide the soup among bowls and garnish with the sage.