I have a greatâ€”and relatively newfoundâ€”love for white beans. (See? I do eat more than meat.)
Here are two of my favorite ways to prepare them. The first recipe is for a thick dip that’s fragrant with garlic and lemon. The second is a creamy, spinach-laden soup that uses the dip as a base.
A simple, convertible recipe for white beans
It’s a dip! No wait…shazam! It’s a soup!
(Pardon the ultra-corny, culinary sleight of hand, but it really is almost that easy.)
This white bean dip is fabulous served with crackers or tortilla chipsâ€”or as the centerpiece of a fresh, crunchy crudite platter. It’s also a nice, egg-less replacement for mayo on a toasted BLT sandwich.
You can also use it as the base for a hearty soup. This soup is creamy and flecked with pieces of fresh baby spinach, crispy bacon, rosemary, and black pepper. The lemon in the dip gives it a really nice, bright tang.
Serve it for lunch or supper on a cold winter day when you’d rather spend more time snuggling on the sofa than slaving in the kitchen.
Once you make the dip, the rest of the soup comes together in a snap. And since the main ingredients are already pureed, there’s no messy and dangerous pot-to-blender transfer of scalding hot soup.
Garlicky White Beans, Two Ways: A note on beans and salt
You’ll need about 3 1/2 cups of beans for this recipe. I used two 15.5 oz. cans of Goya Small White Beans.
Keep a close eye on any salt you add to either of these recipes. Between the beans, bacon, and chicken stock, you’ll already have a fair amount.
Lemon-Garlic White Bean Dip
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 Tbls. fresh rosemary
3 1/2 cups small white beans, cooked and drained
1 cup good olive oil
juice from 1 medium lemon
freshly cracked black pepper
Creamy Spinach & White Bean Soup
1 recipe white bean dip (see above)
4 rashers of bacon
3 cups low-sodium chicken stock
2 1/2 cups baby spinach, loosely packed
Garlicky White Beans, Two Ways, Part 1: Lemon-Garlic White Bean Dip
If you’re using canned beans, rinse and drain them. Set them aside.
I rinse my beans, then leave them in the sink in the colander to drain for a few minutes.
While the beans drain, put the garlic and rosemary in the bowl of your food processor. Pulse a couple of times to mince the garlic and bruise the rosemary. (I like slightly larger pieces of rosemary. If you don’t, mince yours up a bit before you toss it in.)
Scrape the sides of the bowl down with a spatula. Add the drained white beans.
Pulse a few times to begin to mash up the beans.
They should look about like this:
Scrape the sides of the bowl down. Drizzle in the olive oil slowly, with the food processor running on low speed.
When all the oil is incorporated, squeeze in the lemon (remove any seeds). Add a little black pepper to taste. Process on low speed until well combined.
Your finished puree should look about like this:
Taste it and correct the seasoning, adding kosher salt and more black pepper to taste.
If you’re serving as a dip, turn the puree out into a bowl. Garnish with a few sprigs of fresh rosemary, serve, and enjoy!
If you’re using it as a soup base, read on!
Garlicky White Beans, Two Ways, Part 2: Creamy White Bean Soup
Dice up the bacon slices. Add the bacon to a large soup pot on the stove. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until brown and crisp.
Your goal is to crisp up each piece, so you wind up with little bacon chips.
When the bacon is cooked, turn the heat completely off so the fat doesn’t burn. Fish the bacon bits out of the pot with a slotted spoon and set aside to drain on a few paper towels.
Drain off as much of the bacon fat as you like. (How much you leave in is up to you. You’ll have plenty of flavor from even a teaspoon. If you’re concerned about fat content, remember there’s a fair amount of olive oil in the dip.)
Turn the heat up to medium-high. Pour in one cup of the chicken stock. Scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to deglaze all those tasty, brown bits. Bring the stock up to a simmer.
While the stock is coming to a simmer, chop up the baby spinach.
When the stock has started to bubble, add the white bean dip to the pot.
Whisk briskly to incorporate the white bean puree into the stock.
It will be really thick and look about like this:
At this point, it will coat a spoon well. (Mmm, flecks of rosemary, black pepper, and bacon-y goodness.)
Pour in the remaining 2 cups of chicken stock.
Whisk to combine. Bring it up to a simmer over medium-high heat. Toss in the spinach and stir to combine.
Let the soup simmer uncovered for another 5 or 10 minutes. Taste and add salt or pepper to taste.
Ladle out into bowls or mugs. Garnish with bits of crispy bacon. Enjoy!