I’ve always found soups rather boring and underwhelming. The texture is always sort of mushy, seasoning never strong, and overall, just blah. However, my family gifted me with an handheld liquidizer/emulsifier over the holidays and I’ve been going HAM on the whole soup business. The goal? A flavor fusion, high on the seasoning and bacon. Always bacon.
A few notes on my cooking, I do mostly everything by taste and feel, rather than measurement or temperature checks. If you like more of something, add more. If you don’t like something, leave it out. Cooking, for me, is a therapeutic and natural exercise. It doesn’t feel like a science, overly technical or intimidating. So just play around and if it doesn’t work, toss it and try again (or order double orange chicken from the place down the street.) I also try to use organic and/or local food products, because of their higher quality, better taste and general feel-goodness.
Tuscan Thyme Bean Soup with Crispy Bacon and Curried Brown Butter
(Recipe adapted from How Sweet Eats)
For the Soup:
- 6 slices bacon, thick slice, preferably organic, chopped
- 1 large onion, chopped (doesn’t matter red or white or yellow)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 cans white beans, drained and rinsed
- 3 cups veggie or chicken stock
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup half and half
For the Curried Brown Butter:
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 3 generous pinches of my mom’s garam masala* (or you can use curry powder, but it’s not as good).
*Garam masala is an Indian spice blend that is the basis of the the Indian culinary palette. Families all have a different one, but it generally contains black peppercorn, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, and coriander. Our family’s is low on the cinnamon, FYI.
For the soup, fry up the chopped bacon until crispy. Remove bacon and drain on paper towels for soup topping. To pan, add garlic , onion, spices and herbs. Sautee on medium until onions are translucent/wilted/cooked through.
Rinse beans (always rinse) and drain beans. Add beans to pan with stock. Bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer (low heat), cover and cook until beans are soft. I cooked for about 30-40 minutes, while I was preparing some French bread.
Emulsify soup with handheld blender thing (take off heat to do this), or add batches to you blender and liquidize. Remember that shit can splatter so be careful. Once nice and smooth, add the half and half.
Prepare the brown butter. TBH, this was one of the hardest things for me to master – so pay attention. Take a tiny saucepan. Put on medium-high heat , add butter and constantly swirl pan as butter melts. At the point it melts, throw in the pinches of garam masala. Once milk solids (the frothy bit on the top of the butter) starts to show up, you’re on the brink of butter. YOUR BROWN BUTTER IS DONE WHEN THE CLARIFIED STUFF UNDER THE SOLIDS DEEPENS EVER SO SLIGHTLY. (If you miss this point, you’ve burned the bloody stuff, so trash it and try again.)
Ladle soup into pretty bowl. Drizzle a bit of brown butter. Throw on the bacon bits. Serve with a warm french loaf and a medium-bodied red.