Winter storm Hercules was a bust, in my opinion. While my friends in Boston got hammered with a foot and a half of the powdery stuff, we’ve got a mere 7 inches here in New York: hardly Herculean amounts. All sorts of bluster and school closings and road closings and State of Emergency declarings for what was, once upon a time, simply…. winter. It is, however, very cold & blustery, with air temps in the single digits and wind chill standing at -10 degrees F. So, despite the lack of impressive snow totals, I’m happy to have this warm & satisfying white bean soup in the fridge.
Bumblebee beans, the beautiful, large, heirloom white bean from Maine, make a lovely soup: not only are they large with a smooth, silky texture, their maroon markings show through when cooked, and make for a lovely speckled appearance in a blended soup. (Because, let’s face it, a lot of blended white bean soups look like nothing so much as a bowl of paste: yummy!) The leeks give the soup a nice mellow oniony bite, while the other aromatic vegetables – carrots, celery, turnip – add a little heft and layers of flavor.
Preserved lemon, however, is the star of this show: bright, salty, funky, it takes a good bean soup and elevates into something special, and it’s easy to adjust the flavor from subtle to smack-your-face lemony on the fly. I used straight-up salt-only preserved lemons in this version, but I suspect a nicely-spiced lemon would be wonderful as well. Lemon season is upon us again, so it’s time to use up last year’s batch: you could do worse than keeping warm with a lovely bean soup.
White Bean, Leek & Preserved Lemon Soup
- 3 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large leek, well cleaned, trimmed and sliced
- 2 carrots, sliced (I used yellow)
- 3 stalks celery, sliced
- 1 small turnip, peeled & diced
- 1 lb dried white beans, cooked & drained (I used Bumblebee)
- 1 quart stock (I used turkey)
- 1 whole preserved lemon, with pulp, unrinsed (seeds removed), chopped into 8 pieces
- freshly ground black pepper
- chopped fresh parsley or toasted walnuts, for garnish
- In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, heat the butter and olive oil over medium-low heat until butter foam subsides. Add leeks, carrots, celery and turnip. Sauté until vegetables are softened and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Add beans, stock, and enough water to just cover the beans. Add preserved lemon. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until beans and vegetables are very soft, about 30 minutes.
- Using an immersion blender (or transferring soup in batches to a standing blender), blend soup until smooth and uniform. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding preserved lemon brine, a splash of lemon juice, and/or black pepper as desired. If necessary, simmer the soup, uncovered and stirring occasionally, to thicken to the desired consistency. Serve hot, garnished with a good handful of fresh parsley and a pinch of Aleppo pepper, or a drizzle of olive oil and toasted walnuts.
Serves 6 – 8.
- One whole preserved lemon makes for a nicely lemony soup; I don’t find it overpowering, but if you are not sure how lemony you’d like the soup, start with one-half of a lemon; you can always add more at the end. Simply allow the added preserved lemon to simmer until very soft (about 15 minutes) then blend the soup again.
- I”m not sure you even need stock for this soup, as the preserved lemon adds so much flavor: if you are out of homemade stock, you might try just using water. If using store-bought stock, choose low-sodium, or start with ¼ of a preserved lemon, lest the soup be too salty.
- I like the balance of flavors between the beans, vegetables and lemon, and I think that using the pot liquor from the beans would make the soup a little too beany. But, if you prefer more bean flavor, and a thicker broth, feel free to use the cooking liquid from your beans.
- If you prefer a somewhat chunky soup, reserve the preserved lemon until after you have partially puréed the soup, then dice peel into tiny squares prior to adding. Simmer another 15 minutes for flavors to blend. If you don’t want to blend the soup at all, the preserved lemon can be finely diced and added at the beginning.
Refrigerated for up to 5 days. Frozen for up to 6 months.
That does look tempting on a cold day like today. I have made something similar (I always use water or vegetable stock) but not with the lemons. Must try this.
This looks delicious! I’ve always wanted to make white bean soup after hearing how creamy and great it is. I will definitely try making this, and thanks for sharing.
Never heard of the bumblebee bean before, will have to try. Thanks for sharing, this looks fantastic.
Reblogged this on Forget the Viagra, Pass Me a Carrot and commented:
We eat soup everyday – I make up fresh batches for a week and I am always on the look out for new recipes. A great soup is like your favourite book – lots of wonderful ingredients, character, taste, flavour and keeps you enthralled until the last spoonful.
I do indeed need to find some preserved lemon (or try making my own) SOON- just sounds fabulous
We only got 6 inches here in Philadelphia, and my daughter in law in Milwaukee has informed us that she is no longer entertaining complaints about the weather from the Mid-Atlantic, but I do think the weather here justifies indulging in your gorgeous soup!
This sounds so delicious! No snow at all out in Portland, OR, but chilly weather is enough for me to justify soup.
I agree Meg (also here in PDX 🙂
So…those carrots? Large? Baby? Medium? Please share…not looking for an exact 5.5″ and 6.25″ measurement, just an approximation. I’m assuming they aren’t costco-sized… 😉
The carrots were roughly medium sized; although with the flavor of the beans & lemon, it won’t make much difference if you add more or less. Although, I can honestly say I’ve never seen a Costco carrot, so I’m afraid I have no comparison. 🙂
This is a superb soup for February. Just the thing to use up some preserved lemon and provide a bit of bright hope on cold, snowy, blowy winter’s night.
Thanks for the yummy recipe. As it made more than I can eat this week, I needed a shorter name to put on the freezer containers . . . . LL Bean soup it is 🙂