Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Elemental bean soup with polenta croutons

This is the soup I made with some of the Baer's "money" beans I cooked the other day. I'd been reading Deborah Madison soup recipes for days, and this is what materialized in the kitchen. It was good enough that I wanted to jot it out.

The beans: I cooked a pound of them with an onion, a garlic clove, two bay leaves and a couple of pinches of asafoetida. Toward the end of cooking, I added a teaspoon or two of salt.

The soup:

1/2 an onion, chopped fine
1 carrot, diced fine
2 garlic cloves, halved and finely sliced
1.5 cups cooked beans PLUS another 1.5 cups pureed till very smooth in the processor
about 3 cups of bean cooking water
a splash of balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper, to taste

Saute onion in olive oil over medium-high heat; add a few pinches of salt. After 5-10 minutes, add carrot and continue to saute for another 5 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the garlic and stir constantly for another minute, and then add 2 cups (or so) of bean broth and bring to a boil. Simmer till the carrots are tender. Add the beans and bean puree and enough additional bean cooking liquid to make it soupy.

The polenta:

Earlier in the day, I made a batch of my oven-baked polenta and put it into a loaf pan to cool. About 20 minutes before I served the soup, I made 4 or 5 thick slices of polenta and then cut each slice into cubes (see picture above). I fried it up in an unholy amount of olive oil, turning it after 3 or 4 minutes to be sure at least two sides of each cube got toasty. A spatter guard was essential -- the popping and spitting was really unreal. I wish I could have put in an audio file so you could actually hear the noise it made.

The combination of the creamy soup and the cruncy polenta cubes was really amazing.

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