Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Shortcut Soup

I have a backlog of recipes that I've been meaning to blog about, but I haven't written much lately because I haven't photographed anything because my camera is back at my cottage, while I've been cooking at the house where I've been cat sitting all winter.  However, I've decided just to forge ahead in the blogging, and I'll fill in photos later, because all of these recipes are definitely keepers, so I'm sure I'll make them again soon.

I'm calling tonight's recipe Shortcut Soup, but 400 Best-Ever Soups, the book in which I found it, calls it Butter [Lima] Bean, Sun-Dried Tomato and Pesto Soup.  It's a shortcut soup because instead of simmering a laundry-list of ingredients for hours to create complex flavor layers, this soup uses just three ingredients that already pack a flavorful punch, along with healthy lima beans, to create a fast soup that tastes like it was on the stove all day.  While I managed to take about five times longer than necessary to cook this soup, and created a huge mess in the process, I was pleased with the result....although on second thought, it's probably good that I didn't have a camera to document the cooking.

As mentioned, I've been cat sitting this winter, and I made this soup at the "cat house" tonight.  After failing to find canned lima beans at my local grocery store, I had to boil dry ones, so that added an extra hour to the cooking process.  When I got to the blending stage, I realized that the blender (which Erik declared probably dates back to the Eisenhower administration) leaked, so I had to quickly dump the soup back in the pot before it all oozed out.  In my haste I whacked the ladle, catapulting soup all over the stove, the counter, the floor, and the cookbook, which is actually a library book...oops.  At that point I decided to switch to the food processor to finish the blending, which worked fine, though food processors are just inherently slower and messier than blenders (when your blender isn't leaking, that is) when you're working with liquids.  However, I eventually got all the soup blended, and dinner was finally on the table.  To round out the meal I toasted thick slices of whole wheat ciabatta topped with brie under the broiler until it was bubbly and melting into the nooks and crannies.

Butter Bean, Sun-Dried Tomato and Pesto Soup (Adapted from 400 Best-Ever Soups)
Serves 3-4

* 2 14-ounce cans of butter beans (lima beans), drained and rinsed or about 2/3 of a pound dried lima beans, boiled until tender (about 1 hour), or about 4 cups of frozen lima beans, thawed.
* 1 quart of good quality chicken stock, or vegetable stock, if you want to make a vegetarian meal
* 4 tablespoons of sun-dried tomato puree, or about 8 sun-dried tomato halves, finely chopped
* 5 tablespoons of good quality store-bought pesto, or homemade, if you feel so inclined
* Freshly ground pepper, to taste

1. In a large sauce pan (4 quarts or so) combine lima beans and the stock, and bring to a boil.

2. Reduce the heat and stir in the tomato puree and the pesto.  Cover, and simmer for 5 minutes.

3.,  Transfer the soup, working in batches if necessary, to a blender and puree until smooth.  Return to pan and reheat gently, about 5 minutes.  Season to taste, if necessary--between the stock and the pesto, the soup is plenty salty, but a generous grind of fresh pepper gives it a nice punch. 

If you have the right ingredients and reliable appliances, this soup can be on your table in just about 20 minutes.  Enjoy!

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