Mushroom white bean bisque

Mushroom white bean bisque

In art and music people speak of combinations that are almost magical. Certain musical pitches combine to make chords that profoundly affect the emotions. Certain colors, when combined, seem to hum in your vision. I believe there are flavors like that, too. Some flavors just seem to go together so perfectly that they become a more perfect whole. Sometimes it’s unexpected flavors, and I’m constantly hoping to discover some brand new-good-for-you combination that makes your taste buds do a little dance. Sometimes it’s a well-known mix of flavors that just makes sense. White beans, sage and rosemary, for instance. With olive oil and balsamic, garlic & shallots. Or mushrooms, sage and rosemary. So, I thought to myself, one long day at work, dreaming about what I’d make for dinner when I got home…why not white beans, mushrooms, sage and rosemary? I had quite a bit of couronne bread left, and I thought I’d make a soup to go with it. I like mushroom soup, but I don’t make it very often, because I use my mushrooms up so quickly in other ways. Plus, it’s hard to make it very pretty. So I decided to combine it with white beans. I know! They’re not very pretty in soup either! But…I added two handfuls of fresh baby spinach, and suddenly it was a lovely pale green color. A sage green color, appropriately! Not a hard soup to make, and very satisfying…light yet substantial, very savory and flavorful.

Here’s Hummin, by Cannonball Adderly, because that’s what the perfect combination of elements seems to do!

2 T olive oil
1 shallot – diced
1 clove garlic – finely chopped
10 oz mushrooms – roughly chopped
1 can white beans, rinsed and drained
1 t rosemary
1 t sage
1/3 cup white wine
1 1/2 cups baby spinach
1 T butter (omit if you’re vegan, obviously!)
2 t balsamic
salt and plenty of black pepper

Warm the olive oil in a large soup pot

add the shallot, sage and rosemary and stir and cook till it starts to soften and brown. Add the garlic and the mushrooms. Cook for about 10 minutes, or more, till the mushrooms release their juices, then they start to dry out and turn brown and a bit crispy on the edges. Add the wine, and cook till it’s reduced and syrupy. Add the beans, stir and cook through. Add about 1 1/2 cups water – enough to cover everything by about an inch.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 15 minutes. Add the spinach, and cook till it’s just wilted.

Add the butter, balsamic, salt and pepper.

Blend in small batches till it’s nice and smooth.

Return to the heat. Add water if it’s too thick, and taste for salt and pepper. Cook till it’s warm through, and serve with some nice bread, if you like.

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