Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Improvised White Bean, Sausage and Spinach soup

I'm a big believer in improvisation in the kitchen (with the possible exception of baking, I've still yet to get the hang of that), and I do it often. During the colder winter months, we will often have what I refer to as Cream of Refrigerator soup. I know that doesn't sound appealing, but it's basically my way of using up the leftover bit of veg and such kicking around the fridge before it goes feral.

This one was the result of miscalculating the amount of cooked beans I would get from the dried amount I had. I needed some beans for last week's minestrone, so threw the remainder of a bag in the oven and ended up with just shy of a metric ton of cooked beans. I didn't want to throw them out, and we couldn't possibly eat our way through them quickly enough.... what to do?

I decided to put them through the food processor, as they were slightly overcooked anyway, let them cool then bundle them into the freezer until I decided what to do with them.

This week I pulled half of the batch out and let it thaw in my stock pot. I also grabbed the last bit of frozen spinach and some leftover sausages I'd cooked for a quiche I made. Everything was already cooked, so all it had to do was warm through, really. I mixed the bean puree with a bit of vegetable stock until it was a thick soup consistency, threw in the spinach and sausage and let it simmer on low for a while. I've never made a bean soup like this before, so I just hoped it would turn out edible.

The resulting soup is probably one of the best ones I've made so far this winter. The beans (white 'navy' beans) were creamy and velvety and gave the illusion of being a cream soup without the use of any dairy (I was thrilled to have stumbled on another weapon in my lactose-free arsenal for B!)). I don't usually like overcooked spinach, especially in soups, but in this soup the chopped spinach gave a nicely subtle flavor and a bit of color, while the sausage added both a lovely bit of fat and flavor as well as some texture. No other ingredients... no salt necessary (the sausage had enough), maybe a sprinkle of pepper, and that's it.

While kitchen improvisation certainly opens you up to inedible and unfortunate dishes, and I've had my share of those, it also offers the chance at stumbling on something you wouldn't have found otherwise. I think this one will be making it into my permanent rotation of recipes!

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