Friday, March 12, 2010

CSA week 14 - Cream of green bean soup

This is a cross between three cream of green bean soup recipes I found, all from the Hungary/Transylvania area. I liked the use of sour cream in one, the bacon in another and the blending from a third. This is probably the sort of thing that sparks border wars in the old country, but I think I'm sufficiently removed that I can do what I want here.

3 cups water
1/2 pound green beans, cleaned and broken into short lengths
1 clove garlic, smashed
1 slice bacon, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon flour
1/4 onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup sour cream (or yogurt)
sweet or hot paprika
salt and pepper
white vinegar

1. Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the beans, garlic and less salt than you'd use if you were just boiling green beans, but still a fair bit. Cook for a few minutes until beans are al dente.

2. Meanwhile fry bacon over medium heat in a small pan. When the bacon is crisp, remove it to a bowl retaining the bacon fat in the pan. [For a vegetarian version, substitute butter for the bacon fat and use smoked paprika later.]

3. Add flour and onion to pan and cook, stirring, to create a roux. (That's called a rántás in Hungarian I've just learned. Interesting.) Cook until the flour browns then remove from heat and add a few spoonfuls of the bean-water and stir to dissolve.

4. Mix the roux into the saucepan with the beans. Add the sour cream, paprika and salt and pepper to taste. Don't worry if you can't get the sour cream to fully dissolve. Gently simmer the soup for five more minutes until it thickens up a bit or you start worrying about overcooking the beans.

5. Remove half the green beans to a bowl, making sure to leave the garlic behind, and blend the soup, either in a blender or in the pot using an immersion blender. Return the beans.

Serve at any temperature you'd like, garnished with the bacon bits, a dash of paprika and a slosh of vinegar. And some parsley if you've got it. Oh, garlic chives wouldn't be bad. I should have thought of that.

Careful with the vinegar, particularly if you used yogurt earlier. The tanginess is just supposed to balance the creaminess, not overwhelm the dish. I cooked the beans about right;They're tender but not quite soft and have retained enough flavor that a spoonful with one ends with clean bean flavor after the creaminess, tartness and smoke have faded. It adds a little extra interest to an otherwise nice but not terribly exciting dish.

The roux didn't do a heck of a lot of thickening. I don't really know what I'm doing with rouxs--I can't even pluralize the word correctly--This isn't the first time I've squandered its thickening potential. (I did find the filé powder at Millams by the way.) Point is: blending some of the beans was a pretty good idea and helps a lot in giving the soup body.

More of the vegetable flavor comes out as the soup cools. I haven't tried it cold yet, but the flavors are well balanced at room temperature. On the other hand, I like the mouthfeel a bit better when it's warm, so it's a compromise.

OK, it's tomorrow and I've tried it cold. There are textural issues. Let's call slightly warmer than room temperature the optimum serving temperature.

No comments: