The Last Bite
By Susan Able
Six years ago I bought a row house in DC and within a week became a regular at Rustik Tavern, a welcoming place just a couple of blocks away. The young chef, Seth Brady, had food goals beyond the brick-oven pizza program to include lots of great vegetable-focused menu items. During my first winter there, my girlfriend Terri and I, both newly single, forged deep bonds over Chef Seth’s bean soup. It had addictive properties that drew us in night after night for a meal of soup, kale salad and the prosciutto pear pizza. We mourned the change of menu dictated by early summer when the soup disappeared, then Chef Seth’s departure and then a final adieu to Rustik when it closed at the end of last year.
Seth Brady generously shared his recipe for my beloved soup. As I suspected, the steamy aroma rising off the warm bowl has strong Proustian powers that take me immediately back to those sweet times kibitzing with a dear friend over life’s possibilities.
White Bean Soup with Chorizo
Recipe from Seth Brady
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1½ cups diced yellow onion
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground fennel seed
- 2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans (don’t drain)
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 2 medium potatoes, diced (about 1½ cups)
- ½ pound Spanish-style chorizo, finely diced
- 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
- 2 tablespoons butter
Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a pan, and sweat the diced onion with the bay leaf on medium heat. Cook the onions to translucent, but don’t caramelize. After the onions have cooked, add the chopped garlic and turn the heat down just a tiny bit and let the garlic cook slowly. If the garlic cooks too quickly it can become bitter—let these guys mingle.
After a few minutes and occasional stirring, add ⅔ of the oregano (about 1½ tablespoons) and the fennel seed. If you don’t have ground fennel seed, go ahead and just add whole. It will be great either way. Once the herbs are added, give it 1 more good stir, wait about 30 seconds, then add the cannellini beans with their liquid and the stock.
Turn the heat up to medium-high. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon ground black pepper. Bring the soup to a low bubbling boil and add the diced potatoes. After a minute, turn the soup to simmer for about 30 minutes.
Heat the remaining olive oil in a saucepan and cook the diced chorizo over medium heat, being careful not to brown it. The idea is to extract the flavor from the chorizo. Once the chorizo has cooked, remove it from the heat and let cool slightly. Add the remaining oregano, sherry vinegar and paprika. Mix it gently and reserve.
Once the potatoes have become fork tender, purée the soup with the butter using a processor, blender or immersion blender. The result will be a velvety bean soup. Adjust the seasonings. When you are ready to serve, just ladle the soup into a bowl and top with your chorizo mixture and a bit of chopped oregano if you have any left. Enjoy!