Sunday, February 10, 2008

February 10: Creamy White Bean and Chorizo Soup

My favorite thing about the internet (besides, as Heather says, all the free goat porn) is that it gives you access to information that would normally, by its own nature, be inaccessable. The best example that I can think of, in this context, is recipes. I no longer have to carry subscriptions to Cooking Light, Cook's Illustrated, Bon Appetit, Fine Cooking, and Food and Wine--the recipes and a fairly broad array of their articles are available to me, sometimes for a minimal subscription fee, online.

Of course, I do still subscibe to several of these: Food and Wine, Fine Cooking and Cook's Illustrated. I do it because many of their articles are only available in their hard copies and also, because I like the collectability of them. I have several years of issues of all of them and they're like my cookbooks: practically priceless, at least to me.

I gave up my subsciption to Bon Appetit last year in favor of using Epicurious instead. It's simpler by far to search their archives than to page back through my collections to find exactly what it is that I'm looking for. When I woke this morning to the sound (and movement) of the heavy winds that are currently buffeting my condo, I knew exactly what I wanted: a hearty winter soup, starchy and creamy and spicy all at once. I knew where to go for it too: the Internet. I'm planning on making this tonight with some kind of bread, something rustic and toasty, and a 2003 California Pinot Noir that I've been hoarding.

This serves 6.

1 pound dried cannellini or Great Northern beans (generous 2 cups)

8 cups water
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
3 garlic cloves; 1 smashed, 2 chopped
1 large fresh rosemary sprig
1 bay leaf
1 large onion, coarsely chopped (about 2 cups)
1 large carrot, coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)
1 large celery stalk, coarsely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
2 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme, divided
4 cups (or more) low-salt chicken broth
1 pound fresh chorizo link sausages, casings removed
1/4 cup whipping cream

Place beans in heavy large saucepan. Add enough water to pan to cover beans by 4 inches. Let beans soak overnight at room temperature. (Edited: Or do what I do and use canned beans: a good quality, like 365 Brand from Whole Foods, about two cans, drained and rinsed.)

Drain and rinse beans; return to same saucepan. Add 8 cups water, 1 tablespoon oil, smashed garlic clove, rosemary, and bay leaf. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover, and simmer until beans are just tender, 1 to 11/2 hours. Season to taste with salt. (Can be prepared 2 days ahead. Cool slightly, cover, and chill.)

Drain beans, reserving cooking liquid. Discard rosemary sprig and bay leaf. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, and celery. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté until vegetables are beginning to soften, about 10 minutes. Add chopped garlic and 1 teaspoon thyme; sauté 2 minutes. Add 2 cups reserved bean cooking liquid, 4 cups chicken broth, and beans. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium and simmer uncovered until vegetables are tender, about 25 minutes. Cool soup 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, sauté chorizo in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat until cooked through, breaking up lumps with back of spoon, about 5 minutes. Transfer chorizo to paper towels to drain.

Using slotted spoon, remove 1 1/2 cups bean mixture from soup; reserve. Working in batches, puree remaining soup in blender until smooth. Return puree to pot. Stir in reserved whole-bean mixture, remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons thyme, chorizo, and cream. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Chill uncovered until cold. Cover and keep chilled.) Rewarm soup over medium heat, thinning with more broth if desired. Season with salt and pepper. Divide soup among bowls and serve.

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