This refreshing soup is inspired by the delicious Romanian sour soup or “ciorba”, which is typically made with meat, but I have created a vegetarian version using white beans.
1 cup dried white beans (cannellini or great northern beans work well), soaked overnight
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 large carrot, medium dice
3/4 cup celery root, medium dice
1/2 red pepper, medium dice
1/2 green pepper, medium dice
1/2 yellow pepper, medium dice
3 or 4 roma tomatoes, peeled and chopped or 1cup canned tomatoes, drained
1 sprig fresh lovage, 1 sprig fresh thyme,1 sprig fresh parsley (tied together with butcher’s twine, if you have it)
2 qts water
salt and pepper to taste
1 to 2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
extra lovage, chopped for serving
Drain the soaked beans, and cover them 3 cups of fresh water. Bring to a boil and place on a low simmer, partially covered, for about 45 minutes, until tender. The best way to determine this is to carefully remove a bean from the pot and squeeze it between your thumb and forefinger. It should yield its creamy goodness, and not have any “bones”. Alternately, if you do not want to cook beans, you may use 2 15 oz. Cans white beans, drained and rinsed.
Next, heat the olive oil on a low flame in four qt. pot and add the chopped onion and a bit of salt. Saute gently for one to two minutes, until it begins to release its juices. We do not want to brown it. Add the rest of the vegetables and continue to saute until they soften a bit and become aromatic. Add the water, beans and fresh herbs. Simmer for 25 minutes, or so, until the veggies are tender. Add salt and pepper, to taste, plus the lemon juice. Allow to cool. Remove the herbs from the pot and adjust salt, pepper and lemon to your taste. Serve chilled with a garnish of chopped lovage.