Soup season is upon us! It is such a cozy, comforting food—and, if you use dried beans, it can be super economical, too. A great way to help yourself out when you cook is to plan for two meals from one, so this recipe for Creamy Navy Bean Soup with Kale and Pesto Toasts by Twin Cities chef and cookbook author Robin Asbell, which she created for Real Food, includes a second recipe for Curried Navy Bean and Spinach Wraps you can enjoy another day.
Smart cooks keep dried beans in the pantry, and this recipe demonstrates why, says Asbell. A pot of inexpensive beans can be stretched to make two filling, nutritious meals. If you have room in your freezer, you can double the amount of beans you cook and freeze half for another round later in the month.
Cooking with Dried Beans
Cooking with dried beans is a good way to save money and make sure that your beans are cooked to your liking, says Asbell. Here she offers tips to keep in mind:
- First, measure dried beans, spread them on a cookie sheet, and pick out rocks or dirt. Most beans are really clean these days, though.
- Rinse the beans with cool water and place in a bowl or cooking pot and cover by 2 inches with cool water. Cover the bowl or pot and let stand, at room temperature, overnight or for at least 6 hours. Drain off the water and add clean water to cook the beans. (This helps remove some of the “gassy” compounds in the beans, so it’s O.K. to pour that first bit of water down the drain.)
- Bring the beans to a boil, then reduce to low and simmer for the suggested time. Smaller beans naturally cook more quickly, larger beans take longer.
- Test a bean by scooping it out with a fork or slotted spoon, and letting it cool completely before biting it. If there is any crunch or a hard, starchy core, keep cooking. You want a tender, melt-in-the-mouth texture.
- Cooked beans keep for up to 4 days in the refrigerator, tightly covered.
Creamy Navy Bean Soup with Kale and Pesto Toasts
Makes about 6 (1-Cup) Servings Soup (And Beans For 4 Wraps)
For the Beans
1 cup dried navy beans, soaked overnight (makes 3 cups cooked)
1 bay leaf
For the Soup
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 cups kale
1 (15-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes, drained
¼ cup white wine
½ teaspoon salt
For the Pesto Toast
6 slices small baguette
1 (6-ounce) jar pesto sauce
- Soak the navy beans overnight by placing them in a pot with cool water to cover by 2 inches. In the morning, drain the liquid (see Cooking with Dried Beans above).
- Place beans in a medium pot with 4 cups water, then place over medium-high heat. Add the bay leaf, and bring to a boil. Reduce to low, then cover and cook for 45 minutes. The beans should be tender. Place a strainer over a bowl or measuring cup so you can drain the beans and save the cooking water. Measure 1½ cups beans to use for the soup, and reserve 1½ cups beans for the wrap filling; place the reserved beans in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
- While the beans cook, in a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic and stir until the onions start to sizzle. Reduce the heat to medium-low, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes, then reduce heat to low, stirring occasionally until the beans are done.
- Transfer 1½ cups cooked beans and 1 cup of the bean water to a blender. Hold a folded kitchen towel over the lid to keep the hot liquids in as you blend. Blend until the beans are smooth.
- Increase the heat under the onions to medium-high and add the kale to the pan. Stir for about 3 minutes, until the kale is softened and dark green. Add the drained tomatoes, wine and salt, mix to combine, and then stir in the pureed beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Stir in reserved bean cooking water as desired to make a creamy soup. Simmer for about 5 minutes.
- Toast the baguette slices in the toaster or by baking on an oiled sheet pan at 350°F for 10 to 15 minutes. Spread with pesto and serve with soup.
Curried Navy Bean and Spinach Wrap
Makes 4 Wraps
¼ cup Greek yogurt
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon curry powder
¼ teaspoon turmeric
1 rib celery, minced
2 scallions, chopped
1½ cups cooked navy beans (reserved from soup recipe above)
4 large whole-wheat tortillas
2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
- In a large bowl, combine the yogurt, mayo, lemon, curry powder and turmeric. Stir to mix well, then add the celery, scallions and reserved beans and stir gently to coat.
- To assemble, place the tortillas on a clean counter or cutting board. On each, place ½ cup spinach, then ½ cup of the bean mixture. Cover with ½ of the chopped tomatoes, then fold in the ends of the tortilla and roll each one up. Wrap tightly in waxed paper or plastic wrap. They will keep for up to 2 days in the refrigerator.
Nutrition info (per serving)
• Creamy Navy Bean Soup & Toasts: Calories 261; Fat 15g (Sat. 2g); Chol 3mg; Sodium 656mg; Carb 25g; Fiber 7g; Added Sugars 0g; Protein 8g
• Curried Navy Bean & Spinach Wrap Per Serving: Calories 347; Fat 15g (Sat. 3g); Chol 9mg; Sodium 425mg; Carb 45g; Fiber 11g; Added Sugars 1g; Protein 11g
Hungry for More?
Check out these soup recipes I have highlighted on this site. Plus, you can find more soup recipes by Robin Asbell in the current fall issue of Real Food that you can pick up at your local Lunds & Byerlys.
Ribollita Soup Recipe
Warm up with a hearty Tuscan bean and vegetable soup recipe by Italian food expert Erica De Mane
Italian Wedding/Meatball Soup
The marriage of ingredients in this soup makes for a happy union in this recipe by meat expert Bruce Aidells.
Butternut Squash, Leek and Potato Soup with Crunchy Kale Recipe
Seasonal flavors come together in a rich and creamy soup—without the addition of cream.
Curried Apple-Squash Soup
Need another idea for all those apples you’ve picked? Combine them with squash in this vibrant soup and celebrate a twofold harvest.
Tortilla Soup with Pasilla Chile, Fresh Cheese, and Avocado Recipe
A small bowl of tortilla soup is a great way to begin a meal, but this soup by Mexican food expert Rick Bayless is satisfying enough to be the main attraction.