Friday, March 9, 2012

It's not easy being green

Green bean soup with butter and chives. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books.

This is my contribution to the #LetsLunch Twitter party. March's theme is Green and since I'm not allowed to write about my Tastes Just Like Chicken Frog Leg Fricasee with Parsley Sauce, I'll submit my second favorite green recipe, for my favorite green bean soup.

Before discovering this green bean soup recipe, I only made green beans one way: cooked to death in pork stock, like any true Southern cook should. This method works very well for the flat, hearty Romano or pole beans that came in the summer. But what about the skinny, delicate beans that are available now? A couple years ago, I discovered a creamy green bean soup recipe, and what a revelation it was, because it combines a technique and a vegetable in a unique way.

The first time I saw the recipe, I thought Blech. Baby food. We don't do those little jars in my house anymore. The kids eat real, whole foods, just like the grownups. Facing an abundance of CSA green beans and knowing that more would be in my near future, I made the soup and now I'm hooked. Try it. And if you think of a clever name to tell the kids, let me know. Both of my girls pronounced the soup delicious, although they weren't crazy about the name "Green Soup."

Green Bean and Vidalia Spring Onion Soup with
Lemon Spring Onion Butter

Lemon Spring Onion Butter

1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

One Vidalia spring onion, trimmed, sliced, (whites and a fair portion of the greens)

Fresh juice from half of one lemon

1 small garlic clove

Salt and pepper to taste

1. Combine first four ingredients in food processor and pulse until combined. Season to taste and set aside for serving.

Use homemade chicken or vegetable broth, if you have it on hand. Here's my primer for an easy vegetable broth.

2 Spring Vidalia onions

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 pound green beans, trimmed and broken into 2-inch lengths

3 cups vegetable broth

1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Freshly ground pepper

Optional: any appropriate herbs that you may have kicking around - tarragon is especially nice. I can imagine that dill would be pleasant. You can never go wrong with chives. Just chop finely and garnish soup before serving.

Very optional: A dairy component such as cream or half-n-half, up to a ½ cup.

1. For the soup, melt butter in a saucepan and cook onion until translucent. Add the beans and cook for about 5 minutes. Add a ½ cup of broth or water to the beans, cover with a lid and let steam until the beans are tender, about 10 minutes. In a separate pan, heat the vegetable broth until very warm. Check on the beans after five minutes to ensure that they are at their brightest when you pull them off the heat. You want a spring green, not a camouflage green.

2. Puree the beans soup in a blender or food processor, taking all necessary precautions because you’re dealing with hot vegetable matter. Gradually add the warm vegetable broth. (I like a rustic puree, but if you're of the silky-smooth texture school, you may want to run the soup through a sieve.) Return pureed soup to the pan and add the cream, if you're using. The dairy is nice, but it mutes flavor and I like my soup intensely green.

3. Find your favorite soup plates and pour out a portion of the soup. Place a spoonful of the lemon butter in the middle of the soup. Makes about 2 reasonable servings.

 Check out the shades of green in the rest of the #LetsLunch posts:

How to Brew a Better Pot of Tea from Grace at HapaMama
Green Chorizo from Felicia at Burnt-Out Baker
Pandan Tapioca from Charissa at Zest Bakery
Natanya’s Guacamole from Lisa at Monday Morning Cooking Club
Notos Pesto from Ellise at Cowgirl Chef
Matcha Green Tea Cupcakes from Cathy at ShowFood Chef

Asparagus with Poached Egg from Karen at Geofooding


linda @spiceboxtravels said...

Gorgeous and lovely sounding soup, Lucy! And thanks for saving the amphibians.

Felicia said...

Lucy, I love your idea of topping the soup with a compound butter--sounds quite elegant! I've never thought of a green bean soup before --thanks for sharing this!

charissa (zest bakery) said...

I'm definitely intrigued. I'm sure the compound butter smoothes out the soup rather lusciously. Thanks for sharing with the Let's Lunch folks!

HapaMama said...

This sounds so wonderfully fresh, especially with the addition of the vidalia spring onion butter. Wish I could find some vidalia spring onions in California!

Eleanor Hoh said...

Can't go wrong with beans and onions, lovely color! I would have liked the frogs legs myself.