janet @ the taste space

Roasted Garlic and White Bean Soup with Greens

In Mains (Vegetarian), Soups on February 20, 2012 at 6:26 AM

Thanks for all the encouragement guys after my last post.  The comment didn’t phase me too much as I know when my recipes turn out well… I love being able to share that same joy I experience, hence the blog and hence hosting meals with friends.

Sometimes I feel like I am on a roll in the kitchen. A week filled with great dishes, each one working out perfectly.

And then, it dries up.

Last week, I did the unfathomable for me. I threw away food.

Over the Christmas holidays, I made homemade sauerkraut. I scoped out pickling salt after my grandmother’s insistence and followed the recipe to a T. 5 pounds of cabbage with 3 tbsp of salt. Nothing fancy. No seasonings. After its first night, it needed a bit more liquid to completely cover the cabbage, so I added some more salt water. I used a (very heavy) car battery [long story how I have that…] to really pack the cabbage down. And then I waited.

It said it would take 4-6 weeks.

After 2 weeks, it started to grow mold on the surface (also known as scum or bloom). Which I removed. Apparently it is normal?

Another 2 weeks went by, more scum. The cabbage tasted like cabbage. Not even that salty.

After another 2 weeks, the scum was making the house smell. I knew sauerkraut could make a house smell, but I figured it would smell like sauerkraut.

The cabbage still didn’t taste like anything more than cabbage in a muted salty broth. Six weeks in, no change and lots of mold. That’s enough.

So it got tossed.

I am a sauerkraut failure.

Oh well, I will have to shell out the big bucks for the really delicious Bubbie’s sauerkraut instead.

What else has been going on in my kitchen?

Sadly, my lackluster results were mostly the meals I had picked to share with friends. I hate it when that happens. Although I know I am my harshest critic when serving others.

I made the White Bean Farro Soup with Chickpea Parmigiano from Terry’s new cookbook. The soup itself was pleasant and my guests really enjoyed it (moreso than myself). It became more special when you added the chickpea flour parmigiano which added a lemony tang to the soup. The soup ended up improving as leftovers and Rob adored it atop his weekend besan chilla.

A few days later, I made this soup, a Roasted Garlic and White Bean Soup that I modified from Jessica.  Like the last soup, this one didn’t wow me either. I always have high expectations when people say this was the “best dish ever”. I don’t think I seasoned it properly but it was still good. Just not GREAT. I liked the chunky yet creamy roasted garlic and white beans (I used marrow beans from Whole Foods). I omitted the nutritional yeast since my go-to vegetable broth powder includes nutritional yeast (I use Tess‘ delightful Chicky Baby Seasoning, by the way). I think kale would be better, but I substituted collard greens since they needed to be used.

And lastly, I made Sarah’s Split Pea Sunshine and Saffron Soup. I didn’t even photograph it because it turned an ugly murky green after being pureed thanks to the (unpeeled) kabocha squash. The soup had such promise- split peas, kabocha squash, carrots, leeks and a host of savoury spices including saffron. I even made the cute (but labour intensive) sunshine carrot cut-outs!

I used red split peas for the first time (courtesy of Whole Foods in Mississauga) and it took over 4 hours before they softened for my liking. It was gorgeous before I threw my handheld blender in there. That’s when the flecks of green were pretty. It was also pretty tasty in the little spoonfuls I tried. But the blender muddled the soup – in looks and taste, unfortunately.

Hopefully your cooking adventures have been better! 🙂

Any tips for homemade sauerkraut??

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays and to this week’s Weekend Wellness.

Roasted Garlic and White Bean Soup with Collard Greens

2 bulbs garlic, roasted (I used 25 cloves of roasted garlic)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, minced
1 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
1 bay leaf
4 cups vegetable broth
2 cups cooked white beans (I used Marrow beans, but use your favourite white bean)
2 cups kale leaves, removed from stems & chopped (I used collards)
1 carrot, grated
salt and pepper to taste

1. If you haven’t roasted your garlic yet, start now by chopping off the top, sprinkling with oil, salt and pepper. Wrap tightly in aluminum foil and roast at 400F for 45 minutes. Set aside to cool when finished.

2. In a large pot over medium-high heat, heat the oil.  Add the onion and saute for 5 minutes.  Add the rosemary, fennel seeds, and bay leaf, and saute for 2-3 minutes more, until fragrant.

3. Add the broth, beans and garlic pulp.  Increase heat to high, cover and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

4. Remove the bay leaf.  Using an immersion blender, puree as much (or as little) of the soup as you want.  I wanted a chunky consistency, so I only partially pureed the soup. If you don’t have an immersion blender, a potato masher could work, too.

5. Stir in the chopped kale and grated carrot.  Cover and allow the kale to wilt and turn a deep green. This shouldn’t take long – 1-2 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4.

  1. Check out this link for awesome lactofermented ‘kraut!


  2. I’m sorry to hear about your sauerkraut. I have not tried to make it yet, but I want to soon. I love it!

  3. Perhaps your sauerkraut was too cold to ferment? I thought it needed to be kept relatively warm, so wasn’t so easy to make in cold weather? (I could be wrong. Anyone else with ideas?) Sorry to hear that it didn’t turn out! 😦
    At least your disappointments in the kitchen were still healthy meals – I’ve been lazy lately (writing a thesis is my excuse) and fell-back on ready-made foods like frozen vegeburgers… ugh. No wonder I don’t buy those! I think I’ll just make a massive pot of soup and eat that for a few days. White beans and veg sounds tasty!

  4. I had a run of bad cooking luck recently, too. But it turned around! The soup sounds good, I’ll have to try it. One suggestion – try Imagine’s No-Chicken broth instead of the bouillon cubes you mentioned. It’s good in bean soups. But who knows…

  5. Mama said there’d be days like this… I’ve been there! In my experience you’ll go through a “eh” phase and then all of the sudden rock out something that makes it all worthwhile. Having made several of your recipes, I have no doubts you’ll hit a home run soon!

  6. This is my favorite soup. I love the garlic, creamy white beans and slightly bitter greens together. Very yummy.

  7. So true, some days are good, some days are bad. I made some homemade sauerkraut last year, and my mom told me the same thing — It wasn’t going to turn out, it would mold blah blah. Well, I put onions in mine (was supposed to help it NOT mold), and guess what, it turned out fabulous! Plus, I love onions, and I think it really added to the flavor of the sauerkraut! As a note, I kept mine in a pretty cold room – maybe 55-60 degrees. Now, I have sooooo much sauerkraut! I am definitely making that soup this weekend! 🙂

    • Hey Jane, Maybe I’ll try it with onions next time. My grandmother had suggested adding rye bread to it, but I didn’t really find that in my internet recipe search so I decided to go ala simple. I WANT to be overflowing with sauerkraut! Let me know how it the soup turns out! 🙂 Maybe I’ll wait for the summer to try again incase it has something to do with the temp (now it is probably a bit cold – 18-20C).

  8. I DEFINITELY have those weeks. For sure. It’s usually an every other week kind of deal. thankfully I cook in such excess that it doesn’t really matter. But it IS frustrating.

    It’s too bad this soup wasn’t amazing! It does sound like it should be!

  9. Hi Janet.

    A tip, which you may already know, but I didn’t see it reflected in the original recipe. I like to salt in layers, which may be why the roasted garlic and white bean soup didn’t turn out as you’d hoped for. I would have added a pinch of salt in the stage when you sautéed the onions in the pan. Secondly, I typically do not add salt when I roast garlic. See Elise’s recipe, which is close to my default method — http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/roasted_garlic/ (she roasts at 400 F for 35 minutes, I usually do 375 F for 45 minutes).

    I also do not use bouillon cubes when I make soup, preferring instead to make my own stock. In this way, I can control the sodium content of any dish I make. It sounds to me that what the soup may have needed was just a little salt added at the right times. These may be slight differences, but when it comes to salt, it tends to have a cumulative effect that’s amplified in the final product.

    As for the sauerkraut, this thread — http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?/topic/23301-sauerkraut/page__p__316720#entry316720 — might help resolve your dilemma.

    Keep up the great work!

  10. also, I recommend the Runner Cannellini beans at Rancho Gordo — http://ranchogordo.com/html/rg_varieties.htm

    well worth the expense, in my humble opinion. after you experience THOSE beans, you’ll never go back to canned.

  11. This weekend I ordered the three books from Tess. Can’t wait to make the chicky baby seasoning, hope I have all the ingredients. I have nutritional yeast, but can you tell me if there any out of the ordinary ingredients I might not have, that I should buy for the recipe?
    Just discovered you site and all the amazing recipes, love it. Thank you!

  12. Sometimes you win with fermentation, sometimes not so much. I love, love, love chipotles in adobo, but to answer your question, if I make something or try a new food that I really don’t like, honestly, out it goes. Chalk it up to experience–you won’t love everything you try, but life’s too short for the “eat everything on your plate” philosophy IMO, plus it makes one shy about attempting new things. I tend to hold onto stuff for a while, but, like clothes, if I haven’t used it for a year (and I mean you, lotus seeds, and you, tree ear fungus), I regretfully compost or purge it. Composting is a great smoother of conscience…

    Don’t worry about the trolls. No sincere critique starts the way your “odd comment” did, and it’s certainly not appropriate to anything you post.

  13. That’s disappointing about the sauerkraut! I wonder what happened. Maybe not enough salt? I remember making sauerkraut in my food technology program but I don’t know if I was brave enough to try it haha. I wish you had posted a photo of that soup that turned out murky! I’m curious to see. Plus want to see your carrot flowers. 🙂 I’ve made this white bean garlic soup and I don’t like soup in general and you know how I feel about beans, but I remember enjoying it (http://www.eatmedelicious.com/2009/04/white-bean-and-roasted-garlic-soup.html). The herbs we used are a bit different and I didn’t add kale.

  14. […] when I thought my week in the kitchen couldn’t get much worse, I broke it. Broke the […]

  15. I hate when you go through those not-so-great food times in the kitchen. On paper this soup certainly looks like it would have been good. Here’s to better cooking times ahead. 😉 Thanks for sharing with Souper Sundays.

  16. Fermented cabbage… Sometimes I wonder if it has to do with the bacteria that’s already on the cabbage. Mine’s usually foolproof, but I had one batch that was just disgusting and didn’t work right, even when I did everything the same as usual. I say, try again! 🙂

  17. I wish I had this for lunch today. This could be my new go to favorite. Have you ever used Spinach as your green?

  18. […] Trust me, it wasn’t that I wasn’t eating my beans before. My white bean of choice this winter were the Yellow Eye Beans from Rancho Gordo (they held their shape wonderfully in two soups and were nice and creamy in the Moroccan phyllo triangles). I also tried out Marrow beans, which supposedly have a bacon taste but it was really subtle. They worked nice pureed in my High-protein Alfredo sauce as well as in soups. […]

  19. […] Fastlane Cabbage Kimchi – I preferred the ginger version instead of the spicy version (did you know that kimchi normally has fish sauce or shrimp in it?) […]

  20. […] my batch cooking and a bit of taste testing, I have a good idea how my meals will be for the week. Flops or wins? I never seem to know with these Random […]

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