Saturday, June 30, 2012

Navy Bean Soup with Kielbasa and Homemade Vegetable Stock

Whenever I make soup, I always buy a couple of those boxes of chicken or vegetable broth from the grocery store. They're a cut above the sodium-laden canned stuff, but lots of cooks swear by making their own. I just never took the time to do it, until now.

I also tend to use canned beans. It's just easier. But lots of cooks swear by the dried kind for delivering better texture and flavor. As a kid, I used to make black bean soup with dried beans, which meant thinking ahead to make sure they soaked overnight. This recipe doesn't require overnight soaking, although you do need 15 minutes of cooking time, plus an hour soak. So while it's still not a quick fix, it doesn't mean dinner is off if you didn't remember to soak the beans before you went to bed.

There's no one right way to make vegetable stock. After all, it's just liquid flavored by vegetables, herbs and seasoning. The possibilities are endless. For mine, I chose fennel as the centerpiece flavor, using both the bulb and the stalks. Potato helps give the stock some body from leaching some of its starch. A hearty blend of herbs adds some refinement and green notes.

Feel free to use less salt if that's something you're concerned about. After I'd added the tablespoon, I was concerned it was too much, but then I did the math and figured out it was only slightly more than the "reduced sodium" brands of broth and way way less than the amount in those dried chicken stock cubes.

When making the soup, I didn't add any herbs, since so many herbs were used to make the stock. You certainly could finish the soup with a sprinkle of chopped Italian parsley or fennel fronds, for example.

Navy Bean Soup with Kielbasa and Homemade Vegetable Stock
Inspired by Navy Bean Soup, Food Network

1 lb. dried navy beans, rinsed and picked over
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 fennel bulb, chopped
3 garlic cloves, smashed (i.e. hit with the flat side of a chef's knife)
2 small or 1 large sweet onion, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 kielbasa sausage, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
6 cups of vegetable stock, see recipe below (plus extra stock or water to cover vegetables if needed)

1. Place beans in a large (4-quart) saucepan covered with 2 inches of water. Bring to boil then reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let sit for an hour. Drain before adding to soup pot.

2. In dutch over or other large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add fennel, garlic and onions and sauté until softened and starting to take on some color. Add the tomatoes and kielbasa, and continue cooking a couple minutes. Add the cooked, drained beans, smoked paprika and the vegetable stock, adding extra stock or water if needed to cover the ingredients. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer gently for about 60 to 90 minutes until the beans are tender.

3. If desired, stick an immersion blender in the soup and pulse a few times to thicken it. Taste and adjust seasoning before serving.

Vegetable Stock
(makes 6 cups)

10 cups of water
1 whole fennel, bulb cored and chopped, stalks chopped (use fronds too if desired)
1 large sweet onion, chopped (include onion greens if you have them)
2 carrots, chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 russet potato, peeled and cubed
Mix of hearty herbs (rosemary, Italian parsley, lemon thyme), added whole or coarsely chopped
1 tbsp. salt
Pepper to taste

1. Add all ingredients to a large pot. Bring to boil then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about 2 hours. Strain the liquid and refrigerate until ready to use.

1 comment:

  1. I love when you make soup and I'm glad you do it, even in the summertime. This one was really good.