I was an English major, but first I was an engineer. Among other things, this combination of thinking methods leads me to make meals up, rather than follow recipes, in order to more completely get the food that I want. I’m a culinary bs-er. I like cooking, because it’s a practical application of creativity and, unlike building bridges or writing critically about Shakespeare, if you mess up majorly, it’s not ultimately a big deal and it’s probably reversible (unless you burn your house down, of course). If you discover a delicious new meal, awesome. If you don’t, well whatever — now you know not to cook that again! No one’s going to drive their car into a canyon or think you’re a literary imbecile because you got a little too inventive when cooking.
I eat at least 2 dinners at week at work, so like to have a freezer full of pre-made meals-in-bags. I wanted to have something that was filling, nutrient-dense, delicious, wintery-like, and not chili (I love chili, but have had it for work dinners a lot in the past, oh, years). This soup is satisfying, thick, nutritious, and pairs perfectly with one of my favorite side dishes, Toast. It can also be very versatile – if you don’t tend to favor the spices that I used, use different ones. If you want to add a grain to the soup to bulk it up some more, go for it. If you don’t want to include meat, don’t. If you want to use different veggies, you have my full support. Go wild–make this into exactly the pot of soup you want. Or, copy me exactly. That’s great, too.
You will “need” (or, for this I used):
1 pound of lean ground turkey
White beans — let’s say 4 cups of cooked beans. I used 2 cups of dry cannellini beans, cooked, which yields probably 6-8 cups of cooked beans, which was too much — next time I will use about half of that amount. The amount of beans you use depends on how thick you want the soup to be.
Green Stuff: Zucchini, celery, spinach, mushrooms (I know mushrooms aren’t green)
Flavor-givers: Onion, garlic, ginger, bay leaves, cardamom pods (I used 7?), salt, pepper, garam masala
A liquid, be it water, bean-cooking water, turkey stock,veggie stock, or whatever you want. I used the bean cooking water, and have never tried this with turkey or veggie stock. I probably wouldn’t, just because I don’t like the extra flavors/sodium, etc that those prepared stocks have. But. It could work.
A big ol’ pot
A food processor or similar replacement. If you don’t have one of these, you could add in the beans without pureeing them, but you probably wouldn’t want to use as many beans as I did. Of course, if you do this, the soup won’t be as thick.
Use however much or however little of the veggies & flavor-givers that you want. If you don’t like any of those things, don’t use them. As I said, you can pretty much alter this general idea of a soup to fit your hopes & dreams. Okay. All set?
First, spray your pot with a non-stick spray, and then get your turkey cooking over medium-high heat (my stove has 2 temperatures: high and off, but I’ll assume that yours is more versatile). I sprinkled some Garam Masala and pepper on the turkey, because I felt like it was a prime time to start giving the turkey some flavor
When stuff is chopped, you can just add it to the cooking turkey. But throw in the onion, garlic, and ginger before the other stuff, please. And hold off on the spinach for a bit.
You can start adding whatever liquid you’re using to the pot as soon as it looks like the turkey might be cooked. It doesn’t really matter. I got tired of chopping and wanted to do something different, so that’s how I knew when it was time to add the liquid.
Once you’ve added all of your liquid, go ahead & add those bay leaves & cardamom pods. If you want to add more spices (garam masala, salt, pepper), rock it out. If you need to add more liquid, please do. Once all of the vegetables (except for the spinach) in there, bring the soup to a boil, and then turn it down so it simmers endlessly. While I suppose that you can overcook soup, it’s hard. I had this bubbling away on the stove for most of the day.
I assume you know what’s next.
Once the veggies are pretty much cooked, add this stuff in with the soup.
The amount of bean-mash that I used filled my pot up a whole lot more than I was anticipating, so I had to let the soup simmer for an hour or so (?) in order to get it to reduce down so that I could add the spinach.
You’ll probably only be able to add half of the bag of spinach at a time. At first, this initiative will seem ridiculous.
But just stick the hat on the pot, and I promise it will work. The steam given off by the soup will wilt the spinach, and within a few minutes (maybe 5?), it will shrink down to nothing.
and, BAM, you’re done. If you want. If you want to make it a bit thicker, which I did, just let it simmer for a while so that it reduces down.
I clearly made a bit of a mess… If you’re serving from the pot, that’s great and you’re all done. I made this to freeze, so I’ll walk you through how I portion it out in order to prepare individual servings.
I moved all of the soup, ladle by ladle, into a giant bowl. I counted 18 full-ish ladles of soup. Knowing that 3 ladles of soup is a good sized meal for me, I prepared 6 zip-lock freezer bags in which to freeze the soup. This next part can get a little bit messy. Especially if you try to take a picture of it. Basically just put 3 (or however many) ladles of soup in each bag.
And there you have it! The delicious, filling, etc, etc Turkey White Bean Green Stuff soup that I’ve been semi promising for a while. When you’re eating it, watch out for cardamom pods– if you bite down on one, the flavor-explosion is moderately unpleasant.
Allow me to do an estimated cost breakdown:
1 lb turkey = $6
2 cups dry beans = $0.99
All those veggies = 6.50 ($2 spinach+$1 zucchini+$1.50 celery+ $2 mushrooms)
I’ll throw in a dollar for the combined cost of all of the flavor-givers
Grand total = $14.49 for 6 big & filling meals –> $2.41 per serving. Not bad at all. Most frozen meals cost at least $2.50 and yield a LOT less food and a lot fewer nutrients per calorie.
Next time I make this, I am going to use fewer beans and probably throw in some barley (after I add the liquid & get it boiling), partly because I’m curious & love adding barley to things, and partly so that the soup is really a full meal without the addition of toast.
All right, so there it is. Let me know what you think, and if you come across any brillint substitutions or changes to this recipe as you’re making it!