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Creamy white bean soup with herb oil and crispy capers

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Creamy white bean soup with herb oil and crispy capers

To make a creamy, smooth, and quick bean soup, we started by briefly simmering canned great Northern beans and their seasoned canning liquid with softened aromatic vegetables and herbs. Heating the beans caused their starches to hydrate, which made the soup especially creamy. Blending the beans with a small amount of liquid helped their skins break down so that the puree was completely smooth. Chicken broth plus a little Parmesan cheese and butter boosted the soup’s flavor and richness. Herb oil and crispy capers were quick-to-make but impressive garnishes that complemented the neutral soup base with vibrant color, flavor and texture.

Creamy White Bean Soup with Herb Oil and Crispy Capers

Serves 4 to 6

For the herb oil and crispy capers:

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup capers, rinsed and patted dry

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

For the soup:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 small celery rib, chopped fine

3 sprigs fresh thyme

2 garlic cloves, sliced

Pinch cayenne pepper

2 (15-ounce) cans great Northern beans

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

2 cups chicken broth, divided

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice, plus extra for seasoning

FOR THE HERB OIL AND CRISPY CAPERS:

1. Combine oil and capers in a medium bowl (capers should be mostly submerged). Microwave until capers are darkened in color and have shrunk, about 5 minutes, stirring halfway through microwaving. Using a slotted spoon, transfer capers to a paper towel-lined plate (they will continue to crisp as they cool); set aside. Reserve caper oil.

FOR THE SOUP:

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and celery and cook, stirring frequently, until softened but not browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Add thyme sprigs, garlic, and cayenne and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add beans and their liquid and stir to combine. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until beans are heated through and just starting to break down, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat and discard thyme sprigs.

2. Process bean mixture and Parmesan in a blender on low speed until thick, smooth puree forms, about 2 minutes. With the blender running, add 1 cup broth and 2 tablespoons butter. Increase speed to high and continue to process until butter is incorporated and mixture is pourable, about 1 minute longer.

3. Return soup to clean saucepan and whisk in remaining 1 cup broth. Cover and bring to a simmer over medium heat, adjusting consistency with up to 1 cup hot water as needed. Off heat, stir in lemon juice. Season with salt and extra lemon juice to taste.

4. Stir parsley and basil into reserved caper oil. Drizzle each portion of soup with herb oil, sprinkle with capers, and serve.

(For 25 years, home cooks have relied on America’s Test Kitchen for rigorously tested recipes developed by professional test cooks and vetted by 60,000 at-home recipe testers. The family of brands — which includes Cook’s Illustrated and Cook’s Country — offers reliable recipes for cooks of all skill levels. See more online at www.americastestkitchen.com/TCA.)



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