Growing up, soups were the foundation of most lunches and suppers, and my brothers and I loved them. Well, that is except during the blazing temperatures of the summer when my Mother still made her soup, and we ate them, complained like children, even into our teens, but we ate them and really, we loved them. Still do. Naturally, when my husband Frank and I opened Claire’s Corner Copia soup was the foundation of the restaurant, and that continues to this day. “What are your soups today” is the most asked question. I’m proud of this because soup is a wonderful way to eat well, particularly because most of our soups include beans and or vegetables and have little or no cholesterol. That is not to say that we don’t indulge in a rich creamy bisque or chowder now and then, but we restrain ourselves because we want our beloved customers to eat well, and besides, they love our soups and we’re happy to make them every single day.
There are a few tips I’d like to offer regarding soup making. Use a heavy pot, stainless steel with a thick aluminum core for even heating and to help prevent sticking. Don’t use a light weight stock pot for making soups or you will run the risk of burning your soup.
Sort your beans for any stones or foreign matter, leaves and such, and rinse your beans before using to be sure no dirt remains. After all, beans are grown in dirt, too, just like vegetables.
And, please use the best oils, beans, grains, herbs, and vegetables for your soups – the results can only be as good as the ingredients.
Consider sharing your soup with a neighbor, particularly an elderly neighbor. They’ll really appreciate it and you’ll feel good knowing that you are sharing something good.
Have fun making soup for yourself, your family and friends, and for your neighbors.
We look forward to serving this soup every fall and enjoy it through the winter at Claire’s Corner Copia. It is so popular that we have customers who come in from Westport Connecticut just for this soup!
4 quarts water
1 pound great northern beans, picked over
2 bay leaves
¾ cup olive oil
10 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup chopped parsley
6 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
¼ teaspoon dried basil or 10 leaves fresh basil, chopped
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon black pepper
Bring the water to a boil in a large covered pot. Add the beans and bay leaves. Cook uncovered over medium heat for 1 ½ to 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until the beans are soft.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the olive oil over low heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Add the parsley, sweet potatoes and basil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook uncovered over low heat for 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the sweet potatoes are tender. Spoon the sweet potato mixture into the cooking beans. Continue cooking for 30 minutes, stirring frequently. Taste for seasoning.
From Claire: “Since 1975, I’ve had the privilege to cook delicious, organic, and sustainable vegetarian foods for the kindest people ever, with a staff that anyone would love to employ, in the great city of New Haven at our sweet little place, Claire’s Corner Copia. Today, this beloved little place remains “the apple (organic, of course) of my eye” for which I will always be grateful.”