Vegan White Bean Soup
1 large onion
1 cup chopped carrots
3 celery stalks
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
1 cup pearled barley
16 oz dried large lima beans or Northern Beans (dried is far better than canned but the latter is an OK back-up – if going canned you’ll need three 16 oz cans)
32 oz. of stock (chicken or veggie – Either homemade or store bought – Water can be substituted)
3 TBS Olive Oil
2 tsp garlic seasoning
1 tsp Cajun or blackening seasoning
Salt and Pepper to taste
OPTIONAL: 1 cup of milk, half and half or cream – Omit for a lower fat/vegan option! You won’t miss it! * Also optional - For added protein, you can add one 14 oz. brick of soft tofu and blend into soup with other ingredients.
If going the fresh beans vs. canned route: Bring a small pot of water to a boil and add beans. Reduce heat, cover the pot and simmer beans until fork tender (about 30 minutes). Drain beans and set aside.
Dice onion, carrots and celery and sauté in another pot with olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, garlic and Cajun spices. Once onions are translucent, roughly chop the tofu and add to the onion/celery mixture along with roughly chopped parsley. Continue to sauté for another 3 minutes. FYI, the tofu provides incredible protein and once completely blended into the soup, it’s undetectable visually or taste wise so it’s a great (and sneaky) way for parents to make sure children are getting the proper protein in their diet. It also serves as a thickening agent for the soup – if you like your soup hearty.
At this point, stir in ¾ of the cooked beans and barley and then add stock. Bring the mixture to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Using a blender, blend the soup until it’s the texture you want. Stick blenders are great for a more rustic consistency but if you want a smoother soup, use a stand blender – but be sure to tightly hold the top down with a towel and be careful for splattering hot liquid!!
Once the soup is blended to a smooth and creamy consistency, add the remaining beans and milk/cream if using. Stir thoroughly and let simmer for an additional 5 minutes. Check for seasoning and then serve with a crispy baguette or parmesan crisp as a garnish.