Garlic Scape & White Bean Soup

It’s hot. So it would seem that a hearty, garlicky, potato + white bean soup is just the ticket, no? I didn’t think so either, and in fact, I made this soup simply to use up the two big bunches of garlic scapes that were in the fridge, anticipating yet another bunch in this week’s CSA. I thought I would simply make the soup and freeze it, assuming that a thick-n-hearty soup was not the thing to offset my popsicle-and-popsicle diet of the last few days. But, you see, I was wrong: turns out this soup is just the ticket.

It’s garlicky, but that light, floral, almost delicate and grassy-green garlic of the scape, rather than the bulb. It’s thick, without being overly rich; filling, without being fat-laden or heavy. It’s been disappearing surprisingly quickly from the fridge, considering the weather in the past few days has hardly seemed soup-conducive; but this soup is nicely filling yet freshly flavored with scapes & basil, thick enough, after a day in the fridge, to serve as a dip of sorts, with crusty bread, tasty while hot, but also while just warmer than room temp, and satisfying in that thank-goodness-it’s-not-another-salad way.

This recipe packs in a full pound of garlic scapes and I suspect you could even increase that a bit without the garlic becoming overwhelming (admittedly, I’m not sure I’ve ever had too much garlic). The white beans give the soup a lovely, smooth, almost unctuous texture and a flavor that complements the garlic scapes quite nicely, but I expect you could make a good version with just potatoes & onion, if you don’t have the time or inclination to cook up a pot of beans. The fresh herb you choose is key here, as the soup is rather delicately flavored and really takes on the flavor of the herb. I had basil, tarragon and fresh dill on hand, so I tasted a small spoonful of soup with a sprig or two of each herb. I liked basil the best, but on another day, I might have gone with tarragon. I expect oregano, thyme, summer savory or rosemary would all be tasty options. Even mint, maybe with a dash of lemon juice to brighten it all up. Whatever is jumping out of your garden, or your CSA bag, will do. And then you’ll have some lovely soup for the freezer, bright with garden-fresh herbs and summery garlic scapes: if any of it makes it there.

Garlic Scape & White Bean Soup

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 lb garlic scapes, with flower heads, chopped (reserve 2 flower heads for garnish)
  • 2 large potatoes (about 1 lb), peeled and diced
  • 2 cups stock (I used chicken)
  • 2 cups water
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • about 3 cups cooked cannellini beans (about 2, 15-oz cans, rinsed), or other white bean
  • a good handful of fresh basil leaves, slivered, or other fresh herb

METHODS

  1. Melt butter over medium-low heat in a medium (5-quart) Dutch oven or stockpot. Once foam subsides, add onion and scapes. Stir and sauté over low heat until vegetables are softened and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Add potatoes, water, stock, salt & pepper: stir, cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until potatoes are just tender, about 15 -20 minutes. Add cooked white beans, cover and continue to simmer for 5 – 10 minutes, to heat beans through and allow flavors to blend.
  2. Blend soup (I use an immersion blender). Taste and adjust seasonings. Allow to simmer over low heat, uncovered, if soup needs thickening. Stir in fresh herbs, garnish with slivered flower head, and serve hot.
Serves 4 – 6.

OPTIONS

  1. This dish is easily made vegetarian with the use of a vegetable stock and vegan with olive oil in place of butter.
  2. Garlic scapes are delicately flavored, so this soup really takes on the flavor of whatever fresh herb you use: add more powerfully flavored herbs (rosemary, sage, etc) sparingly and allow flavors to blend, off heat, for a few minutes before tasting & adjusting.
  3. I used runner cannellini beans from Rancho Gordo, cooked from scratch with a few scallions and garlic cloves in the pot. You can sometimes find local white beans from Cayuga Pure Organics or Wild Hive Farm Cafe.

STORE

Refrigerated for up to 5 days: frozen for 6 months.

SEASON

Early summer.

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15 comments

  1. Eat Healthy Be Happy

    I’m in love with soup and this one sounds like a winner! I wouldn’t have thought to use scapes like this.

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  3. A. Perez

    Can anything else be substituted for the garlic scapes??Maybe garlic cloves or?? If so how many cloves would translate into the amount of garlic scapes you have in your recipe?I dont have good acess to things like that but alwayshave lots of garlic cloves around..

    • Well, of course you can substitute garlic cloves, but it will be a somewhat different taste. If I wanted to use regular garlic, I might roast a head or two in olive oil first, then use the roasted garlic in the soup. To use fresh garlic cloves, start with 5 to 6 cloves and go from there.

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