Beans have been having quite the sustained moment as the pandemic plods along. A Rancho Gordo Bean Club membership has become a status symbol, while several "Bon Appetit" alumni have released clothing decorated with legumes. #Beanfluencer is a recognized hashtag as cooks go viral making humble pots and pulses.
Over the last half a decade, "bean and lentil consumption in the U.S. increased by 73% to a combined 14.5 pounds per capita," according to Quartz. Why, exactly, did this happen? I think there are a few reasons.
Beans are high in protein and a great source of fiber. They're tough to mess up, as they're one of the ultimate "set it and forget it" foods. And, most importantly, they take on flavor really, really well. They're the perfect supporting cast member for flashy warm spices, splashes of acidity and scene-stealing herbs, as you'll see with this super easy 3-ingredient soup.
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Store-bought pesto — which contains basil, crushed pine nuts, garlic, olive oil and a little parmesan cheese — is doing the bulk of the heavy-lifting here. You can totally go for the jarred stuff in the pasta aisle, but there are often small tubs of fresh pesto available in the section where refrigerated hummus and dips are located. Give those a try sometime!
The other two ingredients are, unsurprisingly, beans and stock. For beans, there's a fair amount of flexibility in what works here. I like white or tan beans that tend to get a little creamy, so cannellini beans, navy beans or even pinto beans would be good options. In terms of stock, chicken or vegetable varieties both work well. Just go with the best quality you can find (or make!) for whatever option you choose.
Recipe: Herby Bean Soup
- 15 ounces canned or cooked cannellini or navy beans, bean liquid reserved
- 2 cups good-quality chicken or vegetable stock
- 3 tablespoons pesto
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a large pot, combine the beans and stock. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a low simmer, and if you reserved any bean liquid from the cooking process or can, add a tablespoon or two to the mixture.
- Stir in the pesto until completely combined. Season again to taste and divide among bowls before garnishing.
This bean soup is delicious in its simplicity, but feel free to add to it. Nice additions include crumbled Italian sausage and dried red pepper flakes; an extra squeeze of lemon juice and some additional fresh herbs as garnish; or an extra sprinkle of parmesan cheese and a nice hunk of toasted bread.
More super simple weeknight meals:
- The viral feta pasta dish everyone's raving about is even better without pasta
- A chocolate sandwich tastes exactly as comforting as it sounds — and it's sublime
- This riff on a classic Southern pie is comfort in a bite — and the leftovers taste great for breakfast
- French-inspired lentils are the easiest cure for your winter blues — and they're impossible to mess up
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