Using beans to thicken soup

Cauliflower leek soup

Beans are awesome!  They are so healthy, inexpensive, versatile and there are so many varieties.  I’m sure I’ve not even tried half of them.  I’m sure plenty of other people know this, but I recently realized how easy using beans to thicken soup, sauce and stew can be.  Regardless, it’s worth repeating.

To thicken soup using beans, remove a small portion of cooked beans from the soup (or from a new can of beans) and just enough liquid to blend it smooth in a blender or food processor. Add smooth beans back to the soup. Repeat until the soup is the desired thickness.

Besides beans, I have also used cauliflower to thicken a soup. There are so many ways to thicken soups that I wrote a full post on all the different ways to thicken a soup.

I came up with the idea to thicken soup using beans while I was making a recipe of pork chops and pan sauce.  I sometimes make a vegetable ragout using white beans and the sauce never needs any additional thickening.  The beans add a luscious thickness that makes the sauce come together perfectly.  For the pork chop recipe I didn’t want any beans in the sauce. But I still wanted the same silky texture as the ragout.  I always keep cans of refried beans around so figured that might work.

Refried beans to thicken soup!

Refried beans do have some whole beans in them so I smashed them with a spoon until they were nearly completely smooth.  A few tablespoons of beans added into the sauce rewarded me. I got exactly what I was looking for- a rich, creamy sauce without adding fat or starch.  I did need to cook the sauce a few minutes for the beans to fully incorporate into the sauce.

In addition to adding a silky texture to a sauce or stew, beans add welcome fiber that is lacking in nearly everyone’s diet.  Fiber helps keep your insides moving and reduces cholesterol.  Some people complain of gas caused by beans, but that only happens with people that don’t get enough fiber already.  If you eat beans regularly, the gas problems will go away and you’ll have a very well-functioning gastrointestinal tract.

As I type this, it occurred to me that I can grind dry beans as an instant thickener similar to Wondra flour.  I’ll definitely try this in the future and post about the experience.

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