Sometimes I just look at the picture of a recipe or read the ingredients and think, “I want to eat that!”
Such was the case with the recipe that inspired this soup, when it arrived in my email inbox from Saveur magazine. It’s been cold here in Florida—finally!—and when I saw that soup, I got up from my desk and put the beans on to soak.
I have been subscribing to Saveur magazine for years—since the very first issue, I think. I love this magazine because it’s about traditional cuisine, the dishes that people create from the food found in the places where they live, which have evolved into a cuisine of place. They travel the world to find these local cuisines, and they inspire me.
This soup is a traditional Italian white bean soup. The original recipe that came in my email included fennel seeds in the soup and sautéed broccoli raab with garlic and red pepper flakes on top.
But I was interested in the bean soup itself, which I immediately saw as a gluten-free, dairy-free creamy base to which could be added any proteins, vegetables, and seasonings.
But I’ll tell you, the soup itself is just delicious.
I made a few tweaks to suit my taste, so it’s no longer authentic, but it’s true to me. And you can make it true to you in whatever way you please.
A few weeks ago I suddenly wanted a bowl of hot and sour soup. Not just any hot and sour soup, but a very specific hot and sour soup I used to get at a little restaurant in San Francisco called Mai’s.
This is a slight variation because theirs is vegetarian and contains tofu (which I no longer eat), but it has the same essential ingredients.
This is a great springtime soup because it’s very light and contains mung bean sprouts, little sprouts of new life that correspond to the little sprouts of new life that come up all over in Nature as days grow longer. If you can’t find “bean sprouts” at your local natural food store, you can easily sprout them yourself. Or simply leave them out. The soup is delicious even without them.
Soup is a very easy and satisfying thing to make.
There are many types of soup, but the one I make most is a spur of the moment soup where I just throw everything in the pot and heat it up. It takes about ten minutes, and I’ve got a nice, warm, one-pot meal. I even eat it out of the pot!
There’s no real recipe for this, but rather a method.
First, start with a flavorful broth. I made Bone Broth earlier in the week, so I had that on hand, and it was oh, so good! If you don’t have your own homemade stock, use an organic stock that comes in a carton, not a can (to avoid exposure to BPA). You could even use water, but that would have less flavor.
Next, add a protein. I had some leftover Roast Chicken, so that’s what I used.
Then throw in some vegetables. These could be fresh, frozen, leftover, whatever. I used green onions and green beans that I chopped into small segments about the size of peas. I always keep organic green beans in my freezer and cutting them up like this is a good way to get them into dishes of all kinds.
Then you want to add some flavorings. I added some coconut milk to make this a Thai-style chicken soup, and some red pepper flakes. I also had added a few rounds of ginger in the beginning as the broth was boiling, to add flavor.
And then it’s good to add a garnish on the top. I added some chooped cilantro, staying with the Thai theme, but it could be any chopped herb or vegetable, anything really. A garnish gives visual appeal and a little extra burst of flavor.
So that’s the anatomy of making a quick soup. If you have the ingredients on hand, it’s as quick as any fast food. You can always keep proteins, vegetables, and stock in the freezer, so be there when you need them.
I put these two recipes together as one because that’s how I make them.
If I want chicken, I buy a 2-pack of Coleman Organic whole chickens at Costco (best price here in Clearwater FL). I make roast chicken and eat it hot that night, then remove all the white meat from the carcass and use the legs, wings, and remaining bones for bone broth.
Bone broth is extremely nutritious and helps your body in many ways.
Now, if I was really adventurous, I would eat the internal organs that come with the chicken, too, but I’m not that brave. It’s a good step for me to use the bones as well as the flesh.
When I lived in California, I used to buy whole chickens with the feet. And the butcher would even give me extra feet because some customers didn’t want them. If you can get chicken feet, by all means do so! They make the broth extra flavorful.
It’s very simple to roast a chicken. After trying many different methods, this is my favorite that I always come back to.