In Israel, we begin saying the prayer for rain at the start of the month of Cheshvan (saying the prayer starts later outside of Israel). Rain is desperately needed in Israel and California, which has the worst drought on record. The primary ingredients in this soup require little water to be grown. They are also sowed in the ground and dark places, reflective of the shorter days as we approach winter. With the cooling weather, we start to stay inside more and perhaps become more insular and reflective in our nature. The month–which has no holidays–is sometimes referred to as “MarCheshvan.” Mar means bitter and the parsley leaves on top are symbolic of this bitterness.
Cheshvan: Mushroom and Bean Soup
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
2 carrots, thinly sliced
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups mushrooms, chopped
3 cups cooked white beans (I used a mixture of gigantes and a gorgeous heirloom bean called Giele Waldbeanstje, or Yellow Forest Bean that I was given by members of the Netherland’s Slow Food chapter)
1 cup vegetable broth
2-4 cups water
salt and pepper to taste
a tbsp or so of parsley, finely chopped
1.In a pot, add 1tbsp olive oil and chopped celery, carrots, 1/2 of chopped onion. Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes. To prevent sticking, periodically add vegetable broth.
2. Remove from stove top and place in a blender with 1 cup of beans. Set aside.
3. Add 1/2-1tbsp of olive oil to the same pot and add the second half of the chopped onions. Cook for about 10 minutes over medium-low heat until translucent and starting to caramelize. Add mushrooms and garlic. Cook for another 10-15 minutes. Slow add broth as needed to prevent burning.
4. Once onion-mushroom-garlic mixture is finished, add bean/vegetable blend to pot and
remaining 2 cups of beans. Mix well. Add remaining broth and slowly pour water into pot. The amount of water used depends on how thick or thin you prefer the soup (I used about 2.5 cups of water). Simmer over low heat for about 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5. Ladle soup into bowls. Drizzle each with a bit of fruity olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of chopped fresh parsley.