The other day I was firmly convinced I wanted white chicken chili. But then I realized that A) I neither had enough chicken to make this endeavor a true success and B) I really didn’t want the whole green chile flavor in my bowl. Not that I dislike this combo, I just wasn’t feelin’ it that particular day. Still, I wanted something creamy, bean-y (if it sounds like a word, it’s a word), and chicken-y, with a bit more substance than the average white chicken chili (and there are SO MANY of them out there it’s almost boring). Those of you who can neither stomach nor physically handle the green chile thing will appreciate this soup.
I had fun making this because I’m currently obsessed with pureeing everything. I’m not sure if I’m reverting to babyhood or something (I’m not, I promise), but I just really like mixing up random ingredients and turning them into something completely different. It’s art in its rawest form, if you ask me. Anyway, I thought it would be fun – not to mention far healthier – to create a creamy soup without using the heavy, fattening (and expensive) things like heavy whipping cream and a metric ton of butter. Hence the need to puree. Navy beans lend themselves beautifully to this type of recipe because of their naturally smooth flavor and they are very inexpensive, especially if you buy the dried beans versus the canned kind. Of course, you can definitely make this with canned beans if that’s all you have time for, but lately I’ve been making the switch to using dried beans and have noticed it doesn’t take that much extra time to prepare them (if you’re organized, of course). Not that I’m not drowning in extra time these days, but even when I was still working, I just made sure to soak the beans overnight and cook them while I was getting ready the following morning. Once these are cooked, everything else is super easy! I like to make a big batch and use them for different recipes too, so that’s another good way to cut back on any extra time spent in the kitchen.
For those of you who do not eat meat, simply omit the chicken and replace the chicken broth with veggie and you will also be able to partake of this comforting little soup/stew. Though there’s no dairy or cheese or any of that fun, delicious creaminess, this will still be a very warm and filling soup that anyone can enjoy. Plus, it has that added punch of all that extra fiber from the bean broth, not to mention a delicious, smooth texture broken up by all those chunky veggies and tender chicken. Okay, now I want another bowl! Let’s check out the recipe first.
Creamy Navy Bean Soup with Chicken & Veggies (makes 4-6 servings; total cost per serving: $1.25)
1 c cooked chicken
1 1/2 c mire poix
1 c sweet peas
6-8 small red skinned potatoes, quartered
3 c + 1/2 c chicken or vegetable broth
1 large clove of garlic, minced
2 T olive oil, divided
1/2 t thyme
1/2 t tarragon
1/2 t ground black pepper
1/2 t sea salt
Small bread bowl for serving (optional)
Soak the navy beans in water for about 15-20 minutes, then cook for 35-40 minutes or until the beans are tender. Drain and remove 1 cup of the beans to use later in the recipe. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot and add the garlic. Cook just enough to bring out the aroma of the garlic, then add 1/2 cup of the mire poix and all the herbs & seasonings. Add the other cup of navy beans and cook until the mire poix veggies begin to soften, then add 3 cups of chicken broth. Bring to a low simmer for about 3 minutes then remove from heat. Using extreme caution, transfer the soup to a blender and puree until creamy and smooth.
In the same pot, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and add the potatoes. Cook over medium heat until lightly browned and tender on the inside (they should cook quickly as they’re such small pieces). Add the remaining mire poix and cook for about 2 minutes or until the carrots soften slightly, then add the chicken, the remaining beans, and the peas. Finally, add the creamy bean broth and bring the whole soup to a nice simmer. Reduce heat to medium low and allow to cook for about 5 more minutes to allow all the flavors to blend together. If needed, thin out the soup with the remaining chicken broth.
Serve generous amounts of soup in prepared bread bowls or in regular soup mugs, garnish with plenty of freshly ground black pepper, and enjoy!