Once again summer has officially arrived and what always comes to mind this time of year are lemons for recipe after recipe after recipe. Be it for chicken, seafood, salads or soups, it is lemons and their juice that really bring so many dishes to life in the summertime.
This is my third recipe for a lemon soup, all inspired by Greece’s Avgolemono in one way or another.
For Greek Lemon Soup with Minted Lamb Keftedes (click here) and Lemon Soup with White Beans and Celeric (click here)
The recipe that follows is for a very simple and quick chilled lemon white bean soup that is perfect as an opener for summer meals. To save time I’ve used canned white beans and eliminated the somewhat tricky Greek custom of whisking eggs into the soup to thicken it which can be a little challenging. This soup can be pulled together with very little fuss in about 30 minutes.
Choose your lemon carefully. A thin skinned unwaxed organic lemon, such as Meyer, is ideal if available. I have used a local Chiangdao lemon here in Chiang Mai.
Chilled Lemony White Bean Soup makes 2 quarts
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
- 6 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- 5 cups chicken or fish stock
- 2 cans (400g each) white beans
- ½ teaspoon dried marjoram or lemon thyme
- sea salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
- zest and juice of 1 lemon
- sliced ciabatta or focaccio
- feta cheese (goat feta if available)
- lemon zest
Before you begin cooking zest your lemon into long strips using a vegetable peeler. Slice the zest strips very thinly lengthwise. Set aside about a quarter of the thin strips to use as garnish later. Slice the remaining strips into half inch batons and set aside. Then squeeze the lemon and set the juice aside.
Select a heavy bottomed soup pot and place it over medium heat on the stove top. Add the olive oil and when hot add the onions and saute for a minute. Reduce the heat to medium low and continue to cook the onions for about 8 minutes or until soft, stirring from time to time. Then add the garlic and cook another 2 minutes. Add the stock, the beans including their brine, and the marjoram or lemon thyme. Add a little salt and pepper and cook at a simmer for 25 minutes, stirring from time to time.
Remove the pan from the heat and puree the contents in the pot with a hand held immersion blender ( or transfer to a blender) and blend until smooth.
Return the pot to the heat and add the lemon zest batons and bring to a simmer. Adjust seasonings adding salt and pepper as needed. Then turn off the heat. Let sit for 10 minutes and then stir in lemon juice to suit your taste; about 6 to 8 tablespoons.
Transfer the soup to containers and cool to room temperature. Then cover and refrigerate.
Preheat the broiler
Before serving, Lightly toast the bread slices and top with thin slices of feta. Place under the broiler until the feta has melted a bit and lightly browned in spots. Remove from the oven and cut bread into bite size cubes.
Give the chilled soup a good stir and ladle into individual soup plates. Place 3 or 4 bread squares
in the center of the soup and garnish with lemon zest strips.