Didn’t you also looked forward for Spring to start? I know I can’t really complain about NorCal winters, but as a cook I love to celebrate every new season. This Happy Spring String Bean Soup is my newest celebration dish.
When people ask me how I get ideas what to cook, my answer differs on my mood and what tricks I recently used.
I vary the main components of my dishes, based on what I ate earlier. If on Monday my main starch came from potatoes, Tuesday couscous and Wednesday noodle soup (sometimes even without noodles), today could be something with rice or pasta. I wrote about that earlier.
But I have another way to vary my dishes and get inspired.
To eat with the seasons.
Which is not so easy to accomplish, as the vegetable department of our grocery stores don’t reflect the time of year that well. Or .. not at all. You can buy tomatoes and melons throughout the year! I mean, they are Summers favorite.
My Summer favorites.
So I do keep those for the Summer.
Okay, I try to. Like I play mostly with squashes, pumpkins and mushrooms in Fall. In the Winter I eat a lot of root vegetables, potatoes and cabbages. And now the days get longer and brighter, my food changes again.
To the new bright leaves. Asparagus. Although March by itself is one of the barest months of the year: new greens have hardly popped up and stock of cabbages and root vegetables that brought us trough the winter are tiring us.
But, hey, we live in 2017 for a reason, right?
At my small and local produce store I sometimes spot a vegetable that I don’t see all year. This week they had string beans, that long, flat green beans.
In Dutch we call them ‘Cut Beans’ (snijbonen) as our grandparents knew only one way to use them: diagonally cut in thin slices (2-3 millimeters). This way they could overcome that long fiber thread that old varieties used to have. They even had a special machine for it. Look!
Nowadays we don’t have to worry about it and usually chop them in bigger pieces.
Like other beans they’re typically a Summer produce, but I chose to ignore that. I was just too happy to find these rare beans here in California. And so I celebrated Spring this week with my Happy Spring String Bean Soup.
Happy Spring String Bean Soup
Putting beans in a soup is not a very common thing. Well, at least for me! And I never had seen String Beans in a soup before I made this soup for the first time a few years back. Until I asked Google, who told me that’s quite a common thing to do in Germany: Schnippelbohnensuppe. My version is much lighter without the potatoes and only a tiny bit of meat.
1 small onion
2 tablespoons butter
5 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
4 cups | 1 liter vegetable stock
1 hand fresh string beans
salt + pepper
quite some frehs mint and/or parsley
2 slices baked ham
Tip: Vegetarians can omit the ham and crumble some soft goat cheese over the soup.
Start with the onion. Peel and dice finely. Saute in the butter, together with the thyme and bay leaf, on medium heat until softened. About 10 minutes.
In the mean time, cut of small end tips and diagonally cut the string beans in 1/2 inch pieces.
Add stock and bring to a boil.
Add beans to the soup and cook until done to your liking.
Prep the garnish. Mince mint/parsley finely. Grate lemon peel and mix in with the herbs. Cut the ham in thin stripes.
Taste the soup and season with salt and pepper.
Serve the soup with the stripes of ham and garnished with the lemon herb mixture. Squeeze some lemon juice to taste.
Do you like to put beans in your soup? Tell me all about it!