Romanian Vegetarian White Bean Soup (Ciorba de Fasole)... using a 1 pound bag of white beans to make 2 dishes (Part 1). I know, I'm posting a soup when we are nearing the summer months. This should be more of a "winter" sort of soup. But honestly I like this soup all year round. I could even eat it cold:). So for the next couple of posts, I will be sharing 2 Romanian recipes that are inexpensive, vegetarian and relatively easy to make. Both recipes are made using just a small (1lb) bag of dried white beans.
I'll admit both recipes came about one day when I remembered a delicious white bean dip I grew up with... it was always so, so delicious. And because the bag was more than plenty for making the dip, I decided to make another dish with the rest of the beans. It happens to be a Romanian soup I make from time to time.... with variations.
Most times I make this bean soup, I'll end up using some sort of smoked meat or sausage... sometimes I'll just add a bit of bacon. But the soup usually varies most times, because I'll use whatever ingredients I have in the house at the moment. This time around I wanted to go lighter, and chose to skip all forms of meat... went completely vegetarian. The soup was still delicious. However, for one of the meals, I ended up frying a smoked sausage link, sliced it, and added that to my husband's soup bowl. He loved it...sometimes you just have to improvise:).
We like to add a bit of shredded Romanian cabbage slaw( shredded cabbage seasoned with vinegar, oil, and salt/pepper) to this soup... it sort of acts as a "topping". The slaw adds a bit of extra freshness and crunch... as well as flavor. It's not traditional, I mean, adding the cabbage slaw. But one day, I had some on hand and my husband decided to add it to the soup...we found it actually worked:). Didn't take a photo of that, but I thought to mention it, in case you care to try the cabbage slaw variation. Hope you enjoy...
You will need:
Cooking Beans: you will only be using some of the cooked beans. Reserve 2 cups cooked beans for another dish... coming up... Part 2.
The bean stock and remainder of the beans can be made into this bean soup.
2 1/2 cups dried white beans(navy or northern)
4 cups water
2 TBS kosher salt
Vegetables: for cooking beans and making bean stock
enough water to cover beans(2-3 inches above beans)
2 celery stalks
1 bay leaf
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1/2 parsnip, if desired( normally used, but I didn't have)
Additional Soup Vegetables:
1/2 onion, diced small
2 celery stalks, diced small
1/2 red bell pepper, diced small
2 carrots, diced small
2 TBS tomato paste
salt as needed
1/4- 1/3 cup chopped fresh dill
2 TBS olive oil
lemon juice, to taste, totally optional
lemon juice, to taste, totally optional
1. Soak beans overnight: Place beans in a large bowl, add water and salt.
2. Next day: Rinse beans and drain.
Cook Beans: I cooked my beans in a pressure cooker for about 15 minutes(to make soft beans), but you can cook the beans in a regular pot if you like.
1. Place drained and soaked beans in a large pot, and cover with about 3 inches of water.
2. Add onion, celery, carrots, garlic, bay leaf, and parsnip(if using). Bring water to a boil, cover and lower heat to a simmer... cook beans until soft. Check after about 45 minutes or so. Time is approximate.
3. In the meantime, cut up soup vegetables... the 1/2 onion, the celery, carrots, and red bell pepper.
4. In a skillet, heat 2 TBS olive oil and add the chopped vegetables... season with a bit of salt. Cook vegetables on medium/low heat stirring every so often until vegetables are tender, about 10-12 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook for an additional minute mixing it in with the vegetables. Turn off heat and set mixture aside.
5. When beans have cooked and are soft, strain stock using a colander... and remove vegetables. Add the stock in a large soup pot.
6. Reserve 2 cups worth of the beans to make bean dip(Part 2 coming up)...
Place the rest of the beans back in the strained bean broth.
7. Place the soup back on the stove, heat on medium heat and add reserved cooked vegetables with tomato paste. Stir to combine.
8. Cook soup for an additional 10 minutes or so... so the flavors blend. Adjust seasoning.
9. Add chopped dill and serve. If you like, you can add a bit of lemon juice to brighten the dish...