Healthy mushroom and white bean soup [Vegetarian]

Jaymi's Notes:

With a cold wind bringing rain to San Francisco, I couldn't have picked a better day to cook up this delicious soup. It's perfect for a chilly day. There are only a few ingredients to this meal and it cooks up quickly, which makes it extra appealing as a last-minute-soup recipe.

Knowing how much I love mushrooms and knowing how much they cook down when simmered, I added loads to this soup -- about twice as much as what the recipe called for. And I'm really happy I did. The extra mushrooms were just what the soup needed to be extra hearty.

Salt and pepper make a huge difference in this meal. Tasting it after it was done but before the salt and pepper were added, it seemed a little on the bland side. But a generous sprinkle of black pepper and a dash of salt brought all the flavors alive to burst across the tongue. So, don't forget the salt and pepper at the end. And some crusty bread -- this soup isn't complete without a couple slices of baguette or this navy bean bread to soak up the broth.

For a vegan version, leave out the cream and substitute olive oil instead of butter when cooking the veggies.

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Kelly's Recipe:

After the mildest fall that I can remember, winter has finally hit Toronto. That usually means a huge snowfall that takes days to dig out from, but in this case it means extreme cold weather. It was so cold that when I went out, my glasses stuck to my face . Even the dog didn't dawdle on our daily walk this morning. On a day like today, nothing warms a body up as well as soup, and boy, it had to be made out of stuff in my pantry, because I wasn't interested in heading back out in the cold to grocery shop.

I had lots of mushrooms, and I came across a recipe that included white beans which made for a more filling soup. This was the perfect lunch for a cold day, tasty, comforting and easy to make. I just had button mushrooms, but it would be really delicious with some other varieties of mushrooms. If I had found the recipe a bit earlier, I would have soaked some of my dried chanterelles to add to it. Even so, plain old ordinary mushrooms did the trick. If you want a vegan soup, just use more olive oil instead of adding butter, and leave out the cream, and it will still be delicious. The recipe calls for only one cup of beans, but I didn't want half a can leftover kicking around the fridge, so I tossed the whole can in and I didn't find that it was too much. Some fresh herbs like thyme or sage would also make a nice addition.

This recipe is from Spilling the Beans by Julie Van Rosendaal and Sue Duncan.

Mushroom soup with White Beans

3/4 lb mushrooms, about 4 cups
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 - 2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp flour
4 cups vegetable stock
1 cup white beans
1/2 cup half and half or whipping cream
Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Clean the mushrooms and slice half of them. Finely chop the other half. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan set over medium-high heat and add the butter. When the foam subsides, add the onion, garlic, and both sliced and chopped mushrooms. Reduce the heat slightly and saute until the moisture evaporates and the mushrooms begin to turn golden.

3. Add the flour and cook, stirring to coat the mushrooms, for another minute. Add the stock and beans and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook for about 15 minutes.

4. Turn off the heat and stir in the cream. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

5. Enjoy!

Healthy mushroom and white bean soup [Vegetarian]
Freezing cold days call for a bowl of warm, peppery soup like this one.

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