So here we are in the middle of January. While it’d be nice to be patio-side with a basket of chips and a bowl of guac, I’m investing in sidewalk salt instead, and developing new ways of walking on ice to avoid total ass-bustage. The next six or so weeks are inevitably the most brutal of the winter months, which is why I started this Soup Series. Week one was a tasty take on a sometimes not-so-tasty vegetable, cauliflower. Lucky for me, this week I don’t have to convince myself of any cruciferous affection.
Let’s start with green beans, one of this soup’s shining stars. I have always loved green beans. Mom used to make canned ones especially good by heating them up in a pot with in their army-green juice, adding a bouillon cube, plenty of black pepper and half an onion, covering them and letting them steep into oblivion until they were perfectly flavored. With fresh green beans, my favorite way to serve them is with butter, garlic and slivered almonds. (Random side note: My father-in-law cuts the tips off of them – not the stem end, but the thin, curly end. I don’t get it, but I find it oddly charming.) Moving on.
The other shining stars of this soup are the mushrooms. The original recipe calls for criminis, but – I bet you can sense what’s coming – I urge you to use whatever mushrooms you like, have on hand, or just picked out of that cow paddy. Well, maybe not.
Mascarpone is an interesting addition. I’ve often referred to mascarpone as the “love child of sour cream and butter” – a little goes a long way, adding a creamy richness to the soup – and those tiny yellow bubbles floating on top signify what you’re about to put in your face will taste oh-so divine.
Gremolata, a raw mixture of parsley, garlic and lemon zest, is the Italian version of Persillade, the French’s equivalent. Gremolata is a flavor enhancer; it’s added at the last minute to infuse any dish with a garlicky, lemony pop. Use any that you have left over on other veggies, grilled meats, other soups, etc. It can be a real dish-saver.
What’s great about this soup is that on the first day, it’s a lovely brothy affair, with just the right consistency of a chunky soup. On the second day, the pasta has absorbed more of the broth, and what was once soup has morphed into a brothy pasta dish. Both are equally pleasant, and warm you from the inside out. Without further ado, the second soup of the series: Mushroom and Green Bean Soup with Gremolata. Enjoy!
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Mushroom & Green Bean Soup with Gremolata
(adapted from Vegetarian Times)
2 cups cremini mushrooms, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 large onion, diced
3/4 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
7 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
1 c. favorite pasta
1 1/2 cups green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
Olive oil, salt and pepper
Heat about 2 tablespoons of oil in soup pot over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and onion, and sauté for 5 minutes. Stir in Italian seasoning, then the broth. Cover, and bring the pot to a boil. Set aside 1/2 cup of broth, then add the pasta; simmer 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the green beans, and simmer 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
Whisk reserved 1/2 cup broth into mascarpone in bowl. Slowly stir mascarpone mixture into the soup. Ladle Soup into bowls. Garnish each with 2 teaspoons of Gremolata and serve.
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley
1 clove garlic, peeled
2 tsp. grated lemon zest
Pulse parsley, garlic, and lemon zest in food processor until finely chopped.
* If the above slideshow doesn’t load, you can view all the photos from this recipe on Flickr.
Laura is a regular contributor for the Fayetteville Flyer. She was born and raised in Fayetteville, but has recently moved to Boulder, Colorado. She is a self-proclaimed foodie and avid cook. For more from Laura, see her past stories, visit Flyer Foodie on Facebook or check out Prana & Pie.