This is a soup I made last winter and I have been craving it again. White beans are wonderful, and always remind me of winter. When I ate this, I recognized it as a good alternative to the traditional “chicken noodle soup”. I would still call this soup a “get well soup” and one that is hearty in its own right. Also, let us all just acknowledge now that because of the crap that is often passed as chicken noodle soup, it is so overrated and often not what it is cracked up to be.
This recipe is one that I just threw together, so I was ultimately very surprised that it was as successful as it turned out to be. When I was thinking last night about what to make for dinner, this soup came to mind, so I figured I’d just write a post about it instead, but make something different for dinner.
This soup has somewhat of a creamy consistency, I’m guessing because of the starch from both the beans and potatoes, and it has a nice, citrusy bite to it along with the spice from the cayenne. I’m a big fan of roasted garlic, so I threw that in, but alternatively you could go the italian route and just cut the top off of a head of garlic and throw the entire thing in with the simmering white beans.
Because I wanted the flavor of all of the different vegetables to come across cleanly, I used water instead of broth so I wouldn’t muddy up the flavors. The combination of flavors is comforting and bright, and it makes me feel like there’s a little bit of sunshine on a rainy day. The cooking time is lengthy, because I used dry white beans, but you could seriously lessen it by using canned or pre-cooked white beans instead.
White Bean Chicken Potato Soup
Cooking time – 2 1/2 hours
1 cup white beans, soaked overnight, or 1 12 oz can of white beans
4 large strips lemon rind, removed from the lemon by using a potato peeler
1 large white onion, 1/4″ dice
2 Tablespoons olive oil
5 cloves roasted garlic
1 chicken breast, bone in
Salt, dried oregano, dried basil to taste
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, more if desired
Place the soaked white beans in a medium sized soup pot with plenty of water to cover and the lemon rind. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, adding water as needed for about two hours, or until the beans are tender, checking often (about every 15 minutes) after the one hour mark. The beans should be reasonably tender, but still al dente, with a small amount of bite left to them. They should not be cooked completely.
Meanwhile, in a separate skillet, cook the chicken. Salt and pepper it generously and place it in olive oil, cooking over medium-low heat until the chicken is cooked through and tender, which should take about 10 to 15 minutes. Let the chicken cool and shred it finely. Then sweat the onions in about two tablespoons of olive oil, adding salt and pepper as needed. After about 5 minutes, add the roasted garlic, crushing slightly with the back of the spoon with which you are stirring the onions.
Add the potatoes and stir to combine well. At this point, add the mixture to the beans, adding enough water to cover by about an inch and bring to a boil, return to a simmer and cook for about 12 minutes, until the potatoes and beans are equally tender. Add the seasonings (I didn’t measure, but I would use about one teaspoon of each herb) including the cayenne, and taste. Salt to taste. Adjust the seasoning as needed.
Just before serving, add the chicken to the soup and stir well. Remove the lemon peel. Serve hot, with bread and a side salad with arugula.
*if you use canned white beans in this soup, you’ll need to adjust the cooking time accordingly. You would instead start by sweating the onions and following the recipe from there, adding the lemon rind when you add the potatoes. Add the white beans within two minutes of the soup being done, just so they can heat.