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Leek and Navy Bean Soup

Leek and Navy Bean Soup

You would imagine leek and navy bean soup to be earthy and casual, like the one flavored with ham hocks my mother used to make.
Today, from the other room, as the leeks and onions sweat their essence into olive oil, Robbie called out that he could smell ham. He was joking of course, he’d seen the beans soaking overnight and he also has memories of his mother’s ham and bean soup.

navy bean soaking for Leek and Navy Bean Soup

But we’re following a plant-based diet here, so there is no ham and oh my, this leek and navy bean soup is much more delicate than any old bean soup. You could serve it as a first course and your guests would declare it elegant and refined, worthy of a white linen restaurant.

leeks for Leek and Navy Bean Soup

Mild and subtle leeks are the answer, with white miso and kombu seaweed as undercover umami. The beans just about disintegrate in the broth and someone might even mistake them for potatoes.

kombu and miso for Leek and Navy Bean Soup

Navy beans are the small white ones, the same ones that go in Boston baked beans. Add delicate leeks and a few mystery items and you’ve created a ladies and gentlemen soup that can be on the table in 30 minutes when cooked in a pressure cooker, and you’ve soak the beans beforehand.

frsh thyme for Leek and Navy Bean Soup

I’ve had this thyme in the fridge for a week, stored in water, covered with a plastic bag. Doesn’t it look fresh?

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Leek and Navy Bean Soup
  • 1 cup dried navy beans
  • 2 strips kombu seaweed
  • 3 large leeks (or 4 smaller ones), washed and trimmed
  • 1 onion , diced
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped thyme leaves , optional
  • 1 tablespoon white miso
  • Chopped chives
  1. Rinse the beans, place them in a bowl covered with water. Soak all day or overnight.
  2. Drain and place in a pressure cooker (or soup pot.) Add 4 cups of water, the kombu and the bay leaves. Bring to pressure in the pressure cooker and cook for 15 minutes, or simmer in the soup pot until the beans are very, very soft. Release the pressure naturally: Let the gauge come down on its own, which will take almost 15 minutes more.
  3. While the beans cook, slice the leeks in half and chop thinly.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-low flame. Cook the leeks and onions, stirring occasionally, until they are translucent and tender, about 15 minutes.
  5. Remove the bay leaves and large pieces of kombu from the soft beans. Stir in the leeks and onions, the vegetable stock and the thyme, if using. Mash everything with a potato masher until you really can’t tell there are cooked beans.
  6. Dissolve the miso in a separate bowl, in about ½ cup of the soup; then add back to the pot. Reheat a few minutes but do not let the soup boil. (Digestive enzymes in the miso are lost when boiled.)
  7. Serve immediately, garnished with chives.

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