Susie Csorsz Brown
New-fashioned Tomato Soup
Things are getting cooler, right? The weather has shifted into fall/winter-mode, and it probably feels like a good idea to have something warm and filling for lunch or dinner. However, I don't know about you, but I don't exactly have a lot of time on my hands. I can't spend hours chopping and stirring. I want a soup that is going to fill my boys' tummies, keep them out of the snack drawer for at least a couple hours, and not cost me a huge amount of time. So, enter this soup. I found the original on NYTimes, but a little bit of tinkering brought us to this version, which was fully approved at our dinner table, even by the picky one.
Don't get wedded to one type of bean here. This would be good with any light-colored sort, from borlotti to chickpea to navy. Just use what you have on hand. If the beans are lighter in color, then they won't change the color of the soup; darker beans will, obviously, impact the color but be just as tasty. Same with the canned tomatoes. Use what you have on hand to get approximately 43 oz.
As a note, the recipe should be at least partly pureed. I personally do not care for smooth soups; my hubby and eldest son LOVE them. You're the chef here, so do as you like. I also much prefer the end results when using my blender, but obviously a hand-blender is going to net you fewer dishes to wash. You choose.
Yield: 6 - 8 servings
10 garlic cloves
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 (14-ounce) cans white or light-colored beans, such as cannellini, pinto, or Great Northern, including their liquid
Equivalent of 1,200 grams tomatoes, crushed, small bits, stewed, fresh ... whatever. You can use canned or fresh (this is about 43 oz)
2 cup stock or water, plus more as needed
1 T sugar
2 tsps smoked paprika, optional
Kosher salt and black pepper
Olive oil, for serving
Harissa, for serving
Peel the garlic, then smash the cloves using a meat pounder or the bottom of a heavy skillet until wispy and flat. Don't get too worried about getting it all the same size; this will all be blended later.
In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, heat the olive oil, then add the crushed garlic, and cook, smashing with the back of a wooden spoon and stirring occasionally, until golden brown and beginning to stick to the bottom of the pan, 3 to 5 minutes. Keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn.
Your next option to add a bit of extra flavor: drain the beans' liquid into a small mixing bowl. Add the beans to the garlic, and cook, stirring frequently, until the beans start getting a little color and perhaps even fall apart a little, about 10 minutes. You can also skip this and add everything to the pot: the beans and their liquid, all of your tomatoes, stock or water, sugar and paprika, if using, and season with salt and pepper. Sauteing the beans just a little bring a little more flavor to the soup, but it is definitely a step you can skip if you're not inclined. Once everything is in the pot, give it a good stir, bring to a boil, then partly cover, reduce heat, and let simmer until thickened and fragrant, 15 to 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let it cool a bit.
Once cool enough to work with, using either an immersion or regular blender, purée 1/2 to all of the soup until smooth; I think it is good to leave some of the beans whole, but ... this is your soup so do as you like. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Drizzle with a bit olive oil before serving. Add a small dollop of harissa, too, if you like things a bit spicy. Enjoy!