In the spring, I tell my students that it’s the time when the vegetables often start with A. such as asparagus, artichokes and alliums which include onions, garlic, leeks, shallots, and chives. You can find spring onions full size but fresh with greens, fresh dug young onions pulled before their time, green onions (sometimes known as scallions), green garlic and garlic scapes and fresh shallots with their stems. All of these vegetables are tender, young and tasty, and here and gone rather quickly.
Pictured here are a red spring onion, the cloves of a not-yet-mature or dried (still green) garlic head, baby leeks in the front and the curly things arethe garlic scapes, the part that will flower if the plant gets too mature.
I love beans and there’s something about white beans that is alluring. If I were really going to make this soup feel like spring, I might have used flageolet beans which are small, greenish French kidney beans but I didn’t have any around.
I had already cooked some white beans to make White Beans with Grilled Zucchini and Lemon (that’s another post) but needed to add more so I used Rancho Gordo Alubia beans from the Xoxoc project which are rather large white beans.
This spring the weather here in Sonoma County has been quite unpredictable with more rain than usual. To me rainy days are meant for soup. With so many green vegetables at the farmer’s market now, I decided to make A is for Allium and White Bean Soup. I like to add a lot of vegetables and herbs to boost the flavor. Pureeing them works best in a Vita Mix blender but can also be done with a hand (aka stick) blender.
While this soup tastes great, I have to say that it unfortunately doesn’t photograph or even look as good as many other soups that i’ve made. Nonetheless, the flavor is superb.
A is for Allium and White Bean Spring Soup
1 1/2 cups dry white beans, soaked overnight or quick soaked
1-2 teaspoons olive oil
1 spring onion, finely chopped, including greens
2 small leeks, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic
2-3 garlic scapes, chopped (if you have them)
6 cups vegetable stock (homemade is best)
1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs (parsley, basil, mint, dill)
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a pressure cooker. Add the onion and leeks and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and scapes and saute another minute. Add the beans and the stock and lock the lid on the pressure cooker. Bring to high pressure over high heat, then reduce the heat to maintain the pressure for 8 minutes. Let the pressure come down naturally. When the pressure is released, carefully remove the lid and tilt it away from you. Taste the beans to be sure that they are cooked through. Add the chopped herbs and puree the soup with a hand blender or in batches in the blender to the desired thickness. I left some beans chunky. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
If using a blender to puree, please be careful and process in batches. I recommend putting a sheet of plastic over the blender, putting on the lid and covering that with a towel. Hot liquid flying around the kitchen is dangerous.
To make this soup on the stove top in a saucepan, I’d use water or only homemade stock as the salt in store bought stock might make the beans tough. Cover the beans with liquid and bring to a boil, reduce to a low boil and cook for 30 to 45 minutes before adding the onion, leek and garlic. Cook until the vegetables and beans are tender. Puree with the herbs and olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
If you read this after the spring alliums are no longer around, you can still make wonderful soup with their aged and mature counterparts.