Bean, Green and Coconut Milk Soup
Here’s another idea on how to use those beans you soaked, cooked, and froze for quick meals.
I love soup. It’s such a great one-bowl meal. You often find your carbs, your veg, your protein, lots of flavor, and it’s hydrating on top of all of that. This recipe comes from me scrounging through my pantry and fridge, not knowing what to make for dinner, and having a lightbulb moment. But more importantly, it comes from knowing some crucial soup-making basics.
The components for my quick soup are:
Spices and Alliums: I used ginger and garlic in this soup. Other spices you could use include cinnamon, saffron, turmeric, and chiles. And for alliums you could use are onions, leeks, scallions, chives, and shallots. They are a burst of flavor and mouthwatering aroma, and are especially good for you. Depending on the variety, they are full of antioxidants, potassium, fiber, folate, carotene, can prevent cardiovascular disease, inhibit blood clotting, aid in circulation, ease nausea, fight inflammation, reduce pain, and so many other awesome benefits. They are an absolute must for soup.
Liquid: Homemade chicken or vegetable stock are always wonderful, but even straight up water works sometimes. Only use water when you’re sautéing vegetables and/or meat before adding the liquid or you’ll have a very bland broth.
Vegetables: Greens are my favorite for a quick, throw together soup because they are so versatile and nutritious, I always have them on hand, and they only need a light steam or dunk in the hot soup and they wilt to perfection. But the range of flavors and textures that comes from trying different vegetables is endless, so by all means, play around with this one.
Protein: Here, I used orca beans, but white beans or mung beans would work beautifully. Shredded poached chicken would also be delicious. Ooh, shrimp!
Carbohydrate: I used soaked, cooked quinoa (using this method for rice). With this more Thai-inspired soup, rice noodles would work really well. But if you were going another route, pasta, rice, wild rice, or any other grain would be great, depending on the flavor profile you’re going for. This is something I like to have cooked separately, and put into each serving, not directly in the pot. Carbohydrates absorb the liquid around them, even once cooled, and you’ll find it a little gluey when you return to the pot later. (There was once a time I found a giant solid mass of leftover chicken noodle soup in my fridge and tried to eat it anyway, and to this day I dislike orzo)
Acid: this is optional, but it sure bumps your soup up to another level. I used lime here. Other options are fresh lemon, red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar. Often when I serve soup, I’ll add a splash to the pot, but leave lemon or lime wedges on the table for people to serve themselves to taste.
Fat: Again, optional, but I love the layer of oomph it adds. I used coconut milk, and just a splash in my individual serving. Instead of the coconut milk, you could add heavy cream, a drizzle of good quality olive oil, cheese, or a pat of butter. Like the limes and lemons, I often serve it in a pretty container at the table for people to serve themselves however much/little they prefer.
Herbs: I didn’t use any this time (though cilantro would be perfect), but do I even need to tell you why herbs are awesome? Besides the depth of flavor they add, they are each different nutritional powerhouses. And their health benefits are very similar to those in the spices in alliums mentioned above. That’s like double whammy delicious and nutritious! For delicate herbs like cilantro, basil, and parsley, add them at the very end, preferably sprinkled on top of each portion. For woodsy herbs like rosemary & thyme, add them to the pot toward the very beginning of cooking.
(That is not my exceptionally manly hand so delicately pouring the coconut milk. You can thank my attractive husband for that.)
Now that you know the general idea, let’s talk about this specific soup. It’s the perfect balance of bright, creamy, and flavorful. And the best part, I threw it together in about 5 minutes. Not kidding. To speed things up, I grated the ginger and garlic right into the pot of stock and shredded the kale as finely as I could. I already had the quinoa and beans in the freezer, so all I had to do was defrost them. You wouldn’t think that beans would go well with Southwest Asian flavors, but they really do. It’s a combination not done often, but you really need to try it. It’s changed my life!
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 2 cups filtered water
- 1/2 inch piece of giner, grated
- 1~2 cloves of garlic, grated
- 1 small bunch of washed greens, such as kale, spinach, collard greens, or Swiss chard
- 2 cups cooked beans such as white beans or mung beans
- 1 cup cooked quinoa
- 1~2 limes, cut into wedges
- 1 cup coconut milk, divided
- salt to taste
- In a medium sauce pan, bring the stock, water, ginger, and garlic to a gentle simmer. Season with salt to taste.
- Meanwhile, take the greens, remove tough stems, layer the leaves on top of each other, and slice very thinly across. Add them to the pot and continue to simmer until the greens have wilted.
- Add the beans to the pot, just to warm through and turn the heat off. Again, check for seasoning and add salt if necessary.
- In each serving bowl, add 1/2 cup of of the cooked quinoa, then pour the soup over the top. Serve with a drizzle of the coconut milk and lime wedges.