Of all the preparations we could make for Hurricane Joaquin’s maybe/maybe not landing in DC, this one seems the most important:


We’ve made a big pot to counter the waves of rain already falling. It’ll keep us warm tonight; the leftovers will keep us fed for a couple of days.

You can make this quickly, using canned white beans and whipping the soup up on your stove. Or you can take a more leisurely approach, soaking dried cannellinis overnight, then giving them an 8-hour spin in the slow-cooker. Either way, you end up with a creamy, filling soup that’s adaptable to the vegans, vegetarians and omnivores in your family.

It’ll warm you up. And make you glad to stay inside.

beans soaking

White Bean Soup (Adapted from “Bon Appetit”)

I make this with sausage and chicken broth, but you can omit the meat and use water for a vegan soup.

  • 1 pound dried cannellini beans
  • 8 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 3 cloves garlic, divided
  • 1 large rosemary sprig
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2-3 large carrots, chopped
  • 1 large celery stalk, chopped
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 pound Italian sausage, casings removed

Place the beans in a large pot. Pour water in the pot so it covers the beans by at least 4 inches. Let the beans soak, uncovered, overnight.

Next morning, drain and rinse the beans. Place them in a Crock-Pot. Add 8 cups of water, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, 1 smashed garlic clove and the rosemary and bay leaf. Do NOT add salt! It’ll keep the beans from cooking well.

Cover the Crock-Pot and cook the beans on high for 8 hours.

beans cookedWhen the beans are done, they’ll be a velvety mush. Season them with salt and pepper.

Remove the bay leaf, then drain the beans, reserving the cooking liquid. Measure out 2 cups:

bean liquid

In a large pot, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onion, carrots and celery. Season with salt and pepper, and saute the veggies until they’re tender and starting to caramelize.

Smash the remaining 2 cloves of garlic and strip the leaves off of the thyme sprigs. Add those to the pot and stir for a minute or so. Add the beans, the reserved bean liquid and the chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 25-30 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.

While the veggies are simmering, brown the sausage in a skillet. Drain well on paper towels when it’s done.

When the vegetables in your simmering bean mixture are tender, cool the soup slightly. Working carefully and in batches, puree it in a blender. Return it to your pot and stir in the sausage. Taste for seasoning — you’ll probably want to add some more salt and pepper. I also like to drizzle in some sherry wine vinegar for brightness.

bean soup

Serve very hot with lots of crusty bread. Then hunker down and stay dry!