We all should be eating more beans and greens in The Bachelor’s Kitchen. But we also know that both of these foods easily can become boring. Relief is only a pot away.
Yes, friends, soup really is good food and it’s a great way to cram lots of good things into a flavorful, filling bowl without adding lots of fat, salt or sugar. Soup is something you find in almost every culture and cuisine. And it goes with so many other things. Add a salad, a sandwich or even piece of chicken and you have a great meal that’s full of nutrition.
One low-fat trick is to make a cream soup by puréeing part of it. That gives the soup a creamy consistency without adding cream. But you can also enjoy a soup like this without that step and it’s still delicious. We made this easy soup without a blender or food processor and enjoyed every drop.
Another advantage of this soup is that you can use off-the-grocery-shelf ingredients or homemade stuff from your pantry. We believe all healthy bachelors should make a pot of soup at least once a month, even in summer.
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Start with a nice big soup pot. Since we won’t be browning anything for this meatless soup, a stock pot works wonderfully. A slow-cooker is also a good option. Even a large saucepan will do the job. If you have a blender or food processor, get it out and ready. But you don’t have to have these tools for this dish.
Add to your pot about 2 cups of chicken or vegetable broth. Of course, if you make your own stock, this is best, but canned will do. Just be sure to buy the low-sodium versions. Add a cup of water and put your pot over high heat. Bring the liquid to a light boil.
Now add about a pound of broccoli crowns that you have trimmed and chopped. If you don’t have a scale, and you should, a pound makes up about 6 cups. Exact measurements are not needed.
Cover the pot with the broccoli added and cook until the broccoli is tender. This should take about eight minutes.
It’s time for the beans. Canned beans are very convenient but they are usually high in salt. If you use canned beans, pour them into a strainer and rinse thoroughly.
We advocate all good bachelors make a pot of beans about once a month. These can be frozen and will keep in the refrigerator for about a week. A slow cooker is great for cooking beans, but a pot on low heat will do the job as well. Dried beans are very inexpensive and that’s another good reason to cook your own. That way, you control the salt and other flavors. Once cooked, you can use them cold in salads, hot with rice, try mixing them into an omelet, adding a simple sauce like left over pasta sauce and you can have nutritional beans in almost every meal.
Beans are very easy to cook. First, start the night before by washing the beans, looking for any little rocks or other things that don’t look like they belong there. Put the washed beans into a large bowl and add enough water to cover the beans by about an inch. Cover the bowl to keep any things out. The next morning, you’re ready to throw them into the pot. Most cooks I know throw out the water in which the beans have been soaking. But others say nutrients have leeched out into the water and you should use it for cooking. You decide. But when in doubt, throw it out. To the cooking pot, add some onion wedges and a bay leaf. Feel free to add other herbs according to your taste. Don’t add salt yet. Cook on low heat for a few hours until the beans are tender. Now you salt them and give the salt a chance to get into the beans, a few minutes.
At this point, you have lots of options. Since the beans are halfway to being a soup already you can go in that direction. Or you can strain them out of the liquid and put them into containers for the fridge or freezer. Just be sure to let them cool down first. In other words, you are ready to use your beans the same way you would use canned beans.
In our Broccoli, Bean and Cheese Soup, white beans of some sort would probably work best, although you can use whatever you have on hand or whatever variety you prefer. Cannellini beans or Great Northerns are what we like for this. You need about 14 ounces worth, or one can rinsed. If you’re using your own beans, about 2 cups should do it.
Add about a ¼ teaspoon each of salt and pepper. If you want to get fancy, use white pepper that can’t be seen in the soup. Cook until everything is heated through.
If you want a creamy soup, take about half of what’s in the pot and transfer to a blender or food processor. Please be very careful as the soup is very hot. Also remember to use the lid. Add about ½ cup shredded extra sharp Cheddar or other strong cheese. Purée and return to the pot or add to a serving bowl. You can also purée the other half if you want. While the soup is still hot add another 1/2 cup of cheese. And stir until it is melted in. Now you’re ready to serve.
If you don’t want to purée the soup, just turn off the heat and stir in about a cup of cheddar cheese until the cheese is melted into the soup.
This soup has a rich taste, but is quite low in fat and calories. A one-cup serving has about 160 calories, 7 grams of fat, 15 grams carbohydrates, 11 grams protein and about 400 milligrams of sodium, depending on your taste. For those using diet exchanges, this equals one starch, one vegetable and 1-1/2 lean meat exchanges. If you’re on a low carbohydrate program, this is ½ a carb serving. Also, this soup has lots of potassium and a fair amount of fiber.
Soup really is good food.