I made a soup for the Master Gardener Intern class today, which is a recipe I make with some regularity at home. Since I've gotten five email requests for the recipe today, I decided I would just list it here. It is vegetarian, freezes beautifully, and like most soups, gets better with a day of aging.
White Bean & Fennel Soup
2 lbs. dry Great Northern Beans
1/4 c. olive oil
2 heads fennel, cut in half and thinly sliced
2 large onions, chopped
1 T. chopped garlic
12 c. vegetable stock
3 lb. red skinned potatoes, cut in chunks
1 c. dry sherry
3 bay leaves
2 t. cayenne
Rinse the beans, picking out any that are discolored, leave to drain in a colander.
In a heavy soup pot, heat the oil, add the garlic, onion, fennel and spices, and saute until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the beans and vegetable stock, and bring to a boil. Turn off heat, cover, and leave for one hour.
Return to a boil, and simmer approx two hours until the beans are soft. The fennel will virtually "melt" into the soup during this process. Check every half hour or so during this process, and add water as needed to keep the beans covered. Add the potatoes and sherry and cook 20 minutes longer, until potatoes are cooked. Taste for seasoning, add salt and pepper as needed.
For all of you cooks who MUST change a recipe (you know who you are), at least try this as written first, then tweak it if you must. I'm sure this recipe could support other veggies, other spices, etc., but it's one of the few recipes that I actually make exactly as written every time, and it gets great reviews.