White Bean and Vegetable Soup
Category: Soups & Salads | Blog URL: http://www.turkishmuse.com/2010/02/white-bean-and-vegetable-soup.html
This recipe was entered in The Foodista Best of Food Blogs Cookbook contest, a compilation of the world’s best food blogs which was published in Fall 2010.
Photo: Barbara Isenberg
How do you define what is and is not a Turkish dish?
Do you define it by whether the dish is served in a restaurant in Turkey?
Or while you're a guest at a Turk's house?
Or maybe by the addition of Turkish red pepper, which -- I might add -- I sprinkle liberally on pretty much everything?
Take this soup for example: White bean and vegetable soup, or sebzeli kuru fasulye corbasi. I made this on a whim several weeks ago while looking for an alternative to ezogelin corbasi, which was, until a few weeks ago, the only soup I could make.
I've never been served this soup in a restaurant, never seen it on a menu, never eaten it at anyone's house. Yet there it was, in a Turkish cookbook. I tried it, liked it, loved it. I've made it several times now.
A few weeks ago I made it for two friends of ours, both of whom were our Turkish teachers at Dilmer when we were living in Istanbul. Neither one of them had ever eaten the soup before either.
So is the soup Turkish or not?
There are some foods that you can categorize as Turkish. Baklava is one that comes to mind. Lahmacun is another. You could also add kofte and kebabs to that list.
But Greeks also claim baklava as a national dish, you can eat lahmacun and kebabs in many Arab countries, and kofte is nothing more than a meatball, which many other national cuisines are also known for.
Wikipedia defines cuisine as "a specific set of cooking traditions and practices, often associated with a specific culture. It is often named after the region or place where its underlining culture is present. A cuisine is primarily influenced by the ingredients that are available locally or through trade."
So this soup is Turkish because I used all local ingredients, right? Is it still Turkish if I have to substitute green pepper for celery because celery stalk is so hard to find?
Bah, in the end, it doesn't really matter what this dish is, other than truly excellent. This is really a great soup for the winter and is an excellent first course for a dinner party. When I made this soup with fresh celery and a pot roast, Jeff said it was the best thing I'd ever made.
White Bean and Vegetable Soup
Adapted from The Sultan's Kitchen
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, diced
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
2 large tomatoes, diced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1.5 cups small white navy beans (kuru fasulye)*
1.5 litres of chicken stock or water
1 carrot, finely diced
1 celery stalk, finely diced**
1 teaspoon Turkish red pepper
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
In a medium-sized saucepan, heat the oil and the butter together over medium heat. Add the onion and the garlic and cook gently for about 2-5 minutes, stirring, until they're softened but not brown.
Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, beans and stock. Bring the soup to a boil; then lower the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes.
Add the carrot, celery and Turkish red pepper and cook for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Ladle the soup into bowls, sprinkle with parsley and serve.
*To prepare the beans, cover them with water and bring the pot to a boil. Allow the beans to boil for about 3 minutes, then cover with a lid and let sit for at least an hour. Alternately, soak the beans in cold water overnight, for about 8-10 hours, then wash and drain them in the morning.
**Celery stalk can be mighty hard to find in Turkey. Make sure you ask for kereviz sapı, which is Turkish for celery stalk, not just kereviz, or you'll get a big hunk of celery root. Which is a lovely thing, just not for this particular dish.