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25th October
2009
written by Steph

Spinach and Leek White Bean Soup... my way!

Spinach and Leek White Bean Soup... my way!

Until I started planning out our meals in detail, and vowed to cut out leftover dinners as lunches, I wasn’t a huge fan of soups.  They just never came across as very filling or very interesting to me, so I never really thought to make them.  BUT, I have since done a 180, and have come to see that soups can make a hearty and satisfying meal.  AND they’re cheap!  So cheap, I don’t have to feel bad about not getting up early to make sandwiches… I try to mix it up each week as to whether I’m making a thick, creamy soup, a lighter, brothy soup, or a soup with meat (or without).  To kick off the weekly cookalong, I decided to go with this spinach, leek and white bean soup, as it had relatively simple ingredients and managed to seem both light and hearty.  Of course, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t deviate from the recipe, so here’s what I actually did: Ingredients (looks to make about 6 – 8 servings):
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil --> I actually did a mixture of olive oil and butter for a slightly richer flavor)
  • 4 leeks, bulb only, chopped --> leeks were crazy expensive at Kroger, so I only got 2 huge ones, and then used almost all of them à nuts to throwing away perfectly good leek parts!
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 (16 ounce) cans fat-free chicken broth --> I changed this to about 5 cans; but I used 1 can of broth, and then used the powdered stock and added the balance in water
  • 2 (16 ounce) cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained --> I only had 1 can of butter beans, so I used that and then tossed in a can of garbanzo beans
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat couscous --> I made 1 cup of cous cous
  • 2 cups packed fresh spinach --> this was probably increased to 4 -5 cups (as I had a huge container)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon of ground fenugreek
  • 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon of thyme
  • bacon (for garnish, optional)
Method
  1. In large stockpot, heat oil and butter over medium heat, and add in leeks and garlic.  Let sauté for about 5 minutes, or until the leeks have begun to soften.
  2. Add in the 2 cans of beans, and the cumin, paprika, salt, pepper, and thyme and let cook for another 2 -3 minutes.
  3. Add in the broth and the bay leaves, bring to a boil, then lower heat and let simmer.  If garnishing bacon, begin cooking now (I cook our bacon in the oven, as it is a lot easier and far less stressful!).
  4. In separate pot, cook couscous according to directions.
  5. When bacon is cooked, remove from oven and let cool.  While cooling, turn off heat on soup, and then stir in the spinach.
  6. To serve, place portion of couscous in individual bowl and ladle soup on top of it.  Garnish with chopped bacon, and serve with crusty bread!
The finished product... yum!

The finished product... yum!

Because I had to sub in a can of garbanzo beans, this got me thinking about upping the Middle-Eastern flavors in the dish, which is why I added the fenugreek and paprika.  I added in the thyme just to round everything out (as some of the comments on All Recipes suggested the soup might be a bit bland as is).  I felt the soup wound up with a really nice Middle-Eastern flavor profile, and was anything but bland.  I was really happy that the soup was light, but filling… we didn’t feel overly full upon finishing, just pleasantly full.  And of course, if you sub in vegetable broth and nix the bacon, this meal is veggie-friendly.  Stick to olive oil and you actually have a vegan meal (I think...). Another thing I did that deviated significantly from the original recipe, was that I didn’t add the couscous directly to the broth, but instead cooked it separately.  I was worried that adding it to the soup might cause it too cook weird or become overly soggy.  It wasn’t much work to cook it separately, and I was happy with how it ultimately combined with the soup. One thing I had toyed with doing was adding raisins to the soup.  I didn’t do this in the end, but for some reason I felt like the flavors would actually work really nicely.  Sometimes I add raisins to stews or curries that I make, so I know they can work in savory dishes.  I might try this next time (or maybe will even add a handful to a bowl for lunch one day), just to see what happens! For storage, I placed the soup in one container, have the couscous in another, and also a small baggie with cooked and chopped bacon.  Now in the mornings, putting everything together will be a breeze! All in all, this was a really quick and easy meal to make (total cook time is about 20 minutes), and we were happy with the final results.  The soup was light and clean, and I think this will definitely be one to consider making again in the future!  If you tried this recipe (or do try it), please let me know how it works for you (and also be sure to point out any ways in which you change things up and make it your own!).

13 Comments

  1. Laura
    10/25/2009

    Yum! This sounds great! I think I’ll write it down and make it next weekend!

  2. 10/25/2009

    Oh this looks so YUMMY!!

  3. 10/25/2009

    That looks like delicious soup.

  4. Sim
    10/25/2009

    This is fantastic, Steph!

    As today was my mother’s birthday and we took her out to eat, I’ll not start the cook-along until tomorrow. Stay tuned for feedback!

    Thanks yet again for posting all this! It’s great!

  5. 10/26/2009

    This soup looks really, really good. I haven’t yet tried making a bean soup, but this one doesn’t look that difficult. I’m glad you enjoyed it and will be thinking of making it towards the end of the week.

  6. 10/26/2009

    @ zibilee: I’d say this soup is dead easy on the bean front since it calls for canned ones, not dry. So there’s no need to soak overnight or anything like that, and it cooks up in a jiff.

  7. Nadia
    10/27/2009

    OMG! The soup looks delicious!! YUMMY!! I think you were right to deviate from the recipe because looks like your soup turned out stellar. As Seinfeld would say “I am stunned by soup!” (or something like that). Cheers!

  8. 10/28/2009

    Yummy. I really want to start making soups and stews – it’s just the best food for this time of year. Thanks for the inspiration!

  9. 10/28/2009

    I have an incredibly picking husband (to go along with a less-but-still-picky wife), but this actually looks great! And the bacon! My husband loves bacon, and this might just make him like the soup. 🙂

    I’m going to print out the recipe from AllRecipes and change it to 4 servings instead of 8. Once I know it’s a keeper, I’ll change it back to 8. 🙂

  10. 10/28/2009

    @ Trish: The flavors are really mellow in this soup, so I don’t think anyone will find them overwhelming, even if they are picky! And of course you can modify it to include (or exclude) anything you like!

  11. 10/29/2009

    Holy moly does that look deeeelicious. And your pictures are great. I felt the same way about soup as you. But making it yourself is not only easy and filling, but also so satisfying.

  12. 10/29/2009

    @ Thomas: Tony gets all the credit for our beautiful food pictures! Taking nice pics of food is DEFINITELY not something one should take for granted!
    And ever since I started cooking my own soups, I just can’t stomach the canned stuff anymore. It’s so unsatisfying and doesn’t taste nearly as nourishing!

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