I’d say that in the past few months, I’ve been quite successful in my quest to stop feeding my family scrambled eggs for dinner all the time. But I’m still not much of a planner. Which means that the dinner hour is often neigh by the time I roll into the kitchen, wondering how our evening meal is going to materialize.
At times like these, it helps to have a well-stocked pantry. And freezer. This is one of those recipes that you can spend all afternoon making–or it can take 30 minutes if you keep the right ingredients in stock. In this case, the right ingredients are an onion, a leafy green vegetable, a good vegetable broth, and some well-seasoned home-cooked white beans. (Of course you can substitute canned beans, but you must first brown an onion, then toss in a handful of chopped garlic and sage for a few minutes, then add the beans and cover with water or vegetable broth and simmer to let the flavors blend.)
Do you cook your own beans? Make your own broth? I do, because I find the homemade versions of these things so much better and SO much cheaper than anything I can buy. This might seem inconsistent with my professed inability to plan ahead, but I just do it every once in a while when I will be home on a Sunday afternoon: put a huge pot of beans on the stove or make eight quarts of stock. It helps that I have a large freezer to store these things in. What do you people do in Manhattan? Anyway, I will start sharing recipes for some of the pantry basics that make it easier for me to get a good meal on the table quickly. Another day.Today, White Bean and Spinach Soup: Grab a quart of good vegetable broth and a few cups of well-seasoned white beans from your freezer. Warm the beans in a soup pot with a cup or so of broth while you saute an onion over high heat in a separate pan. Once the onion is nearly golden and nearly caramelized, use a slotted spoon to scoop about half your beans into a blender and puree them with the onion and another cup of broth. Add the puree to your soup pot and stir in a big bunch of chopped spinach (chard, kale, or other greens would also be great). Simmer until the greens are tender, then thin the soup to your desired consistency with additional broth and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve under a shower of Parmesan shavings or a drizzle of olive oil, with crusty rolls on the side. (The one pictured is a mini whole wheat soda bread, recipe to come after a little more experimentation.) And what’s that gorgeous salad, you ask? Radicchio? Endive? Apples? Blue cheese? Oh, yes. Hop on over to the lovely blog Salt On the Table for the full recipe.