It’s almost Christmas, and if you are like me, you just want to hide out at home for the last days of consumer craziness! The pressure and stress of the holiday season never fails to scare me, and I try to avoid it as much as possible. The few gifts I am giving have been wrapped for weeks, and instead of shopping, I will be spending time at home with my sweetie eating good food like this warming White Bean Stew. This soup should be on your to-do list for holiday decompression, whether you are braving the shopping or avoiding it!
Though this tomato-based soup features only a few vegetables, it makes for a lovely (and quick) dinner, and the fragrant combination of celery, garlic, olives, and lemon is cozy and delicious. This is loosely adapted from this stew recipe found on 101 Cookbooks. I simplified it, changed the beans, and decreased the oil. Her version is prettier, with those beautiful Christmas Lima beans, but these were not available so I swapped in some white kidney beans. Additionally, if you don’t want to cook your own beans, simply drain and rinse one can of your favorite white bean and add at the end.
White Bean Stew
½ pound white beans (cannellini,navy, lima), soaked overnight
1-inch piece Kombu seaweed
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large bunch of celery, thinly sliced (including leaves)
½ cup chopped green onions
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
Sea salt to taste
1 (14-oz) can crushed tomatoes
1-2 teaspoons celery salt
2-3 cups reserved bean broth, or vegetable broth
Black olives, seeded and roughly chopped
Lemon, cut into slices for garnish
- Drain and rinse beans. Add to a large stockpot and add Kombu. Cover with fresh water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes, or until soft.
- Meanwhile, heat ¼ cup olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add celery and stir until coated. Cook 10 minutes, then add green onions, garlic, caraway, and a few pinches of salt. Cook 10-15 minutes longer.
- Add tomatoes and 1 teaspoon celery salt and cook five minutes more. Add cooked beans, 2 cups broth, and remaining olive oil. Bring to a simmer. Taste and add more celery salt and/or broth as needed.
- To serve, divide soup evenly between 8 bowls and garnish with chopped olives. Squeeze lemon into each bowl. Enjoy!
Yields: 8-10 Servings
Notes: If you are not making your own beans, I highly recommend using a homemade broth for the best flavor. Making broth is super easy: simple store up your vegetable peels, ends, stems and onion tops for a week or more in your freezer. Once you have about 5 cups scraps, add to a stockpot, cover with water, and boil for one hour. Strain out vegetables, season delicately with sea salt, and keep for about a week. This also freezes well for future soups.