Scarborough Fair White Bean Soup Recipe

After my last bean post I had a few people write to ask for the “Scarborough Fair White Bean Soup” recipe. I even had a guy inform me that the lyrics “parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme” weren’t actually in the original folk song and were only added much later; probably by someone who didn’t know the correct words. That’s great and all, but if I went by history instead of popular context I would be out one clever name for a soup recipe, which I just can’t have. You understand, I’m sure.

So here, by request, is the recipe for Scarborough Fair White Bean Soup. The soup is high in antioxidants from the beans, onions, garlic and all the herbs. The medicinal qualities of the herbs and the minerals provided by the seaweed make this a very healing soup. Perfect for cold fall and winter day lunches.

I tried making this soup from canned beans in a pinch once and, although it was still tasty, it was not nearly as rich and delicious as when it’s made from dried soaked beans. The long cooking of beans after soaking them overnight leads to a thick and warming broth that adds so much to the soup (and it’s much more easily assimilated too). You can use dried herbs if you don’t have fresh; use about a teaspoon of each. The seaweed is optional – it adds so many healthy minerals but little to no flavour, so I always recommend it.

Scarborough Fair White Bean Soup

3 cups dried white beans (navy beans, cannellini beans or similar), soaked overnight, drained and rinsed
2 cooking onions, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
3 carrots, diced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 small handful of fresh parsley leaves, chopped fine
5-6 sage leaves, chiffonade (or chopped fine)
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, de-stemmed and chopped fine
4 sprigs of fresh thyme, de-stemmed and chopped fine
3 tbsp organic olive oil
1 piece of kombu or other seaweed (optional)
Unrefined sea salt to taste
Fresh cracked black pepper to taste
3-4 L filtered water (more or less depending on the size of your pot)

Heat a medium stock pot on the stove on medium-high heat. Once it’s hot add the olive oil. Sauté onions, carrots and celery, stirring frequently.

After five minutes or so the vegetables will have browned some. Add a little water to the pot to halt the cooking and deglaze the pan (you can also use white wine for this if you have it around as it will add amazing flavour to the end result).

Add garlic and beans. Add remaining water. Make sure there is enough water to cover the beans completely but that it’s at least two inches from the top of the pot.

Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. When cooking beans, a white foam will collect on the surface. This should be skimmed off regularly.

Once boiled, turn the pot down to a simmer.

Stir in spices.

Allow to simmer for forty minutes or so, stirring occasionally and checking the doneness of the beans. When beans are tender remove pot from heat. Remove seaweed if you used it. Add salt and pepper (don’t be shy with the sea salt, all those minerals are good for you!). Serve and enjoy.

The Healthy Foodie is Doug DiPasquale