Most people think of sage strictly as a seasoning for poultry stuffing, or perhaps sausage, but this delicious herb pairs well with many vegetables and starches. Sage is especially good with beans, as in this hearty soup, where it does double-duty: flavoring the beans as they cook and then topping the finished soup as a crispy garnish.
Popular white beans include cannellini and navy beans, but the soup works with most of the gorgeous light-colored heirloom beans in stores today.
Older, drier beans can take longer to cook. To check doneness, cut one open — it should be a uniform color inside.
White bean and sage soup
Prep: 30 minutes
Soak: 1 hour
Cook: 1 hour
Makes: 8 servings
1 1/2 cups dried white beans
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup each: chopped onion, sliced celery
4 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 to 2 tablespoons dried sage
1 quart each: vegetable broth, water
1/4 cup tightly packed fresh basil, thinly sliced
Pinch of ground red pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
16 fresh sage leaves
1 Sort beans; place in a saucepan. Cover with 1 inch of water. Heat to a boil over high heat. Lower heat to a simmer; cook, 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Allow to rest, covered, 1 hour.
2 Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions become translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and sage; cook, 1 minute.
3 Drain the beans; add to the Dutch oven along with the broth and water. Cover; heat to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer; cook, until beans are tender, 1 to 11/2 hours.
4 Remove most of the beans from the pot with a slotted spoon. Place in a food processor; pulse until coarsely chopped. (Do not turn into a paste.) Stir in the basil, red pepper, salt and black pepper to taste. Return beans to Dutch oven; cook to warm through.
5 Heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small skillet over high heat. When hot, add a few sage leaves; cook, turning with tongs, until crispy, about 5 seconds per side. (Do not brown.) Transfer to a paper towel; repeat, in batches, with remaining leaves. Sprinkle with salt; garnish each bowl of soup with 2 leaves.
Nutrition information per serving: 207 calories, 6 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 30 g carbohydrates, 10 g protein, 422 mg sodium, 7 g fiber. email@example.com
The Veggie Cook