Dandelion and Lima Bean Soup
I had long ago heard of the great nutritional qualities of dandelions, those pretty weeds that sprout up all over the place, and that we usually get rid of with an impatient yank, in my case, or with some careful digging, in Desi's (you see who's the loving gardener in the family?).
One of the reasons I'd never thought of eating these is because of the free and open access my three dogs have to our yard which means one cannot just harvest anything growing out in the open, if you know what I mean. Of course, the vegetable garden is fenced and out of bounds.
I have seen dandelion greens occasionally at the farmer's market, but hey, why buy something when you can get it for free? So when some pristine dandelions cropped up in my vegetable garden this summer, I stopped short of throwing them away. Instead, I put them in my soup.
Dandelions have a bitter taste and since I love bitter greens like fenugreek, they held a lot of promise. They are also considered one of the most nutrition-dense greens and are packed with a number of vitamins and antioxidants, and herbalists claim they are a powerful diuretic.
Good enough for me. I had some lima beans soaking, and their creamy blandness sounded like a perfect complement to the bitterness of the greens. I gave the soup a quick turn in the blender at the very end that chopped the greens to small yet discernible bits and gave the soup a smooth creaminess.
I must say, I just loved the dandelions. They tasted mildly spicy and just pleasantly and not overpoweringly bitter in the soup (remember to harvest them when they are young because they grow more bitter as they grow bigger). I stirred in some olive oil into the soup and we ate it with chunky garlic bread. It was delicious. The next day, I stirred in some basil pistou into the leftover soup. Delicious again.
I'm a convert. The next time I see a dandelion, you can be sure I won't be yanking it out mercilessly. Unless it's been out in dog territory, of course.
Dandelion and Lima Bean Soup
A handful of dandelion greens (leaves from about four plants), roughly chopped
3/4 cup dry lima beans, soaked and sprouted, then cooked until tender
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp ground black pepper
Salt to taste
1 tbsp olive oil
Heat the olive oil in a saucepan. Add the onions and garlic and stir over a medium-low flame until the onions are translucent.
Add some ground black pepper and salt. Stir in.
Now add the dandelion greens and stir in. Let them cook a few minutes until quite tender. This won't take long.
Add the lima beans and some water, if the soup is too thick. Let the soup come to a boil, then lower the heat and let it simmer for another 10 minutes.
Turn off the heat. Once the soup is cool enough, puree in a blender or with a hand-blender.
Check seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed. Drizzle in some extra-virgin olive oil or pistou.
Serve hot with rolls or any chunky bread.