Last night, by chance, I came across a really neat soup-thickening tip. I wanted to make a vegetable soup, and hoped to add some bean power to it, but didn’t have any cooked, thawed beans, and cooking some would take a long time. Happily, I had about a half-pint of the white bean spread my grandma used to make, and I just added it to the soup pot. The result: a rich, hearty soup, with just the hint of fragrant beans and lots of vegetables. It pays off to make a huge amount of the bean spread and then use part of it as soup base. Here are instructions for making the bean spread and for using it in soup:

2-3 cups white beans
1 onion
a bit of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Soak beans overnight, or in boiling water for an hour. Then cook until tender. While the beans are cooking, slice and caramelize the entire onion in a bit of olive oil. Transfer beans to blender with half of the caramelized onion and some of the cooking water (enough to reach the desired consistency, which is hummus-like.) Blend till smooth, then transfer to container, salt and pepper to taste, and mix in the remaining half onion. Good in sandwiches, tortillas, as a standalone dish for a multi-dish lunch, etc.

For the soup, I used:

1 package red chard, coarsely chopped
1 package kale, coarsely chopped
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 big carrots, cubed
1/2 onion
3 cloves garlic
pinch of chili
pinch of oregano
pinch of sage
1 cup white bean spread

Place all vegetables in soup pot and cover with water. Mix in 1 cup of white bean spread. Cook until vegetables are tender. yum!

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