White Bean and Broccoli Soup (the anatomy of a recipe)
I have been focusing a lot more on creating recipes that give a big nutritional pay-off. I am always looking for ways to get more beans and cruciferous veggies in our diet. Beans and cruciferous vegetables are some of the healthiest foods we can put in our bodies and we should be eating them every day. Beans literally can increase our lifespan and cruciferous veggies are amazing cancer fighters.
Since I had a bunch of broccoli, the cruciferous star in this recipe, I decided to make a Creamy White Bean and Broccoli soup. And just for kicks, I thought you might like to walk through the process that I use when I create recipes. So, here is the anatomy of my Creamy White Bean and Broccoli Soup recipe.
This recipe did require a little pre-planning because 99% of the time, I cook my beans from dried beans. Why am I committed to this?
- They taste so much better.
- I can control the texture, how soft or al dente (firm) I want the beans.
- I can control the sodium. Many canned beans can have 100x the sodium.
- Dried beans are a lot cheaper than canned beans. Canned beans are around 3x as expensive.
- I can cook them ahead of time and freeze until needed.
- That said, using canned beans is not the end of the world. (Dr. Greger has a wonderful video on canned vs cooked beans here: Canned Beans vs Cooked Beans) and the healthiest way to use them.
I knew that I wanted to make this recipe for Monday’s dinner so I did cook my beans in advance. So, on white bean broccoli soup day, I had the beans ready to go in advance.
Over the years, I have learned it’s all about building flavor. In my dutch oven, I dry-sautéed a medium-sized, chopped onion over medium-low heat. I wanted the onion translucent and soft so I kept the heat low. I added 2 cloves of chopped garlic to the pot when the onions were ready. I ALWAYS add my garlic at the end and give it a quick sauté. You don’t want to add it at the beginning because it will burn and get very bitter.
So, now I have the onion and garlic ready. I added the water, cooked beans and half the broccoli florets. I let that simmer until the beans and broccoli were soft. I lightly steamed the other half of the broccoli florets while the other mixture was simmering. Those were set aside to add at the end.
I pureed the mixture in the blender (in two batches) and poured it back into the dutch oven, stovetop. Then it was tasting time.
Because I really wanted a creamy texture, I decided to add some cashew cream. This recipe only has 1/2 cup cashews in the whole batch. So that is about 3 cashews a serving. Just a little bit adds such a lovely mouth-feel.
Next I started the seasoning process. I threw in some nutritional yeast, a bit of salt and lemon juice to brighten the flavor a bit. But it still wasn’t where I wanted it to be. So, I added some coconut aminos (you could also use tamari or soy but start with one tablespoon and taste as you go) to build some depth. They are quite amazing and can take a recipe from good to…”oh my gosh! What’s in there?” status, quickly. The coconut aminos add umami, a lovely savoriness.
The last step was to coarsely chop the remaining steamed broccoli florets and stir them into the soup. I also added a bit of chipotle powder but that is completely up to you. I like the smoke and the tiny amount of heat it brings. I decided to top this with some toasted walnuts which is optional but I love. And walnuts seem to love to dance with broccoli, so there you have it!
I start with a basic ideas (white beans and broccoli soup), use some basic cooking techniques and then add and taste until I feel it is beautifully balanced and has wonderful flavor.
PS I will be posting the recipe for the bread later this week.
We are not sure if you have noticed, but over on the right hand side of this post, we have included some of the kitchen tools and ingredients used to make this dish. You can just click on the picture and it will take you to our store where you can learn more and order.
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 6 cups water
- 4 cups cooked white beans (navy beans)
- 8 cup broccoli florets, divided
- 1/2 cup cashews, soaked until soft
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 lemon, juice from
- 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
- 3 tablespoons coconut aminos or low-sodium tamari
- 1 teaspoon chipotle powder (optional)
- 1 teaspoon Himalayan salt (more to taste)
- fresh ground pepper
- 1 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
- In a dutch oven or large pot, sauté the onion over medium-low heat until translucent .
- Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute.
- Add water, white beans, and half the broccoli. Simmer until the broccoli is soft.
- While the bean/broccoli mixture is simmering, lightly steam the rest of the broccoli, coarsely chop and set aside.
- Puree the bean broccoli mixture in a high-speed blender until smooth. I did this in two batches.
- Blend cashews and water until smooth.
- Return the blended mixture to the pot and whisk in lemon juice, nutritional yeast, coconut amions, and cashew cream.
- Stir in chopped broccoli florets. Taste to see if you want to add more salt or pepper.
- Top with toasted walnuts and serve.
*To toast the walnuts, place walnuts on baking sheet and place in 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. You can also toast them stove top over heat in a pan. Just be careful to constantly stir the nuts and not burn them.