Nutritious, Versatile Bean Soup Makes Eating Healthy Easy

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If you're trying to eat healthy, beans are one of the best foods you can add to your menu. They're hearty, filling, a good source of protein, and an outstanding source of fiber. Without exception, they have a very low glycemic index, so their impact on blood sugar is minimal. In short, beans are where it's at nutritionally, but how to prepare them? One of the most versatile and delicious ways to get a full serving of beans is in a basic bean soup puree, which you can garnish in a variety of tempting ways. You can make one batch of soup, keep it in the fridge all week, and serve it in a completely different way each time you have a bowl.

This recipe calls for two cups of dried beans, soaked overnight. Dried beans are especially good for you because they don't contain a ton of added sodium, which you frequently see in canned varieties. However, if you want to go ahead with this recipe and don't have the time to let beans soak, you can use three cans of pre-cooked garbanzo beans with the canning fluid drained and the beans thoroughly rinsed.

To make Basic Bean Puree, you'll need:

6 cups cold water
2 cups of dried beans (Navy, Great Northern, pinto and broadbeans all work very well)
1 slice of lemon

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 medium-sized yellow onion, sliced
1 large carrot, sliced
1 large celery stalk, sliced
1 teaspoon soy sauce

2 cups skim milk or light soy milk
seasoned salt
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup fat free sour cream

Combine the water, beans, and lemon in a large, heavy saucepan. Let them soak overnight.

Once the beans have soaked, discard the lemon. Add the oil, onion, carrot, celery and soy sauce to the undrained beans. Add more water if you need to, making sure all the ingredients are under about an inch of water. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 1 1/2 hours, or until the beans are soft. Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor in batches and puree.

Return the puree to the saucepan, and blend in the milk and seasoned salt to taste. In a small bowl, combine the egg yolks and sour cream. Stir about 1/2 cup of the soup into the yolk mixture, then stir the yolk mixture into the soup. Heat through on low heat.

You can either serve this soup hot or chilled, and it lends itself to creative, healthy garnishing. Here are a few suggestions:

Chopped Tomato and Chives:
1 medium tomato, chopped
a pinch of seasoned salt
1/4 cup of finely chopped chives or 1/2 cup of chopped green onion

This will season one cup of soup. Place the tomato in a small bowl and sprinkle with salt to taste. Lightly toss in the chives or green onion. Blend into the soup and serve.

Curry and Toasted Nuts:
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1/3 cup toasted almonds, chopped

This will season your entire batch of soup. Stir the curry powder into the warm soup. Heat on low for about three minutes, stirring constantly. Serve topped with nuts and cilantro.

Spinach and Parmesan:
1 cup finely chopped fresh spinach
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

This will season one cup of soup. Stir the spinach into the warm soup. Top with Parmesan.

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Bonni Vivant has 30 articles online

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Nutritious, Versatile Bean Soup Makes Eating Healthy Easy

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Nutritious, Versatile Bean Soup Makes Eating Healthy Easy

This article was published on 2012/04/25