Thursday dinner: Hearty White Bean and Spinach Soup with Rosemary and Garlic

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The genius J. Kenji Lopez-Alt went vegan this month. If you are not a regular reader of Serious Eats and his Food Lab columns, you’re missing out. He breaks down the science of cooking in an unpretentious manner, showing all the curiosity of the kid on your street who would take apart machines to see how they worked. One of his finest works is a complete deconstruction of an In-N-Out Burger Double-Double Animal-Style.

Regular readers of this blog know that soup is a staple of our diet here at Al Dente HQ and bean soups make more appearances than others, hence this appearance on the blog. The recipe was pretty basic. He used a homemade vegetable stock and I opted for store-bought, otherwise I followed his plan to the letter. It was tough to resist the urge to render a couple of ounces of pancetta for flavor and fat, as I wanted to hold as close to the original as possible.

2013-02-28 at 18-16-20I did run into one problem. The soup tasted like…hot water. I cannot stress enough how important salt is here. You cannot possible use enough. It doesn’t make things taste salty. Instead, the salt brings out the flavor from the aromatics and the spinach, enhancing the entire soup. I aired on the side of conservative with my salt use, instead loading up as I ladled out bowlfuls to The Wife and The Sister-In-Law.

WHAT WORKED: Everything. With the exception of the salt, this was a solid recipe.

WHAT DIDN’T: Salt. I was using pinches when I should have used teaspoonfuls.

WHAT DID THE WIFE SAY: “Hun. What’s this supposed to taste like? Maybe I’m missing it.”

WILL IT MAKE ANOTHER APPEARANCE: I don’t know. If it does, I’ll likely keep this post open and be reminded that I need extra salt. And pancetta.

Hearty White Bean and Spinach Soup with Rosemary and Garlic
From Serious Eats

  • 2013-02-28 at 17-59-071/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion, finely sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 stalk celery, diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 6 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 quart vegetable stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 (15 oz.) can white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 bunch spinach (about 4 oz.), trimmed and washed
  • 2 tsp. juice from 1 lemon
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onions, celery, garlic, and rosemary. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions and garlic are softened but not browned, about 4 minutes.

2013-02-28 at 18-16-20Add broth, bay leaves and beans. Bring to a boil, reduce to a bare simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Add spinach and continue cooking until completely wilted, about 5 minutes longer. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in lemon juice. Serve immediately, drizzling remaining olive oil over bowls.

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