This is a showy, formal dinner soup that you puree until smooth - both soup and chili paste. It can make for a beautiful presentation, particularly when you get creative in adding the bright orange chili paste to the white soup. I'll have to post a more rustic white bean soup (perhaps an Italian Wedding soup?) for the comofort food alternative!
2 dried ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded
1 dried chile de árbol, stemmed, seeded
1 1/2 cups water
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 cups dried Great Northern beans
For chile paste:
- Place chiles in bowl; add enough water to cover. Let stand at room temperature overnight. Drain.
- Boil 1 1/2 cups water, sugar, and chiles in small saucepan until 2 tablespoons liquid remain, about 15 minutes.
- Transfer to processor; puree until smooth. With machine running, gradually add oil. Season with salt and pepper.
- Place beans in large pot. Add enough water to cover by 4 inches. Let soak overnight.
- Melt butter in same pot over medium-high heat.
- Add celery, carrot, onion, and garlic; cook until soft, stirring often, about 15 minutes.
- Add beans and 8 cups water. Bring to boil, reduce heat to low, and cook until beans are soft, stirring occasionally, about 1 1/2 hours.
- Stir in cumin and coriander; cool.
- Working in batches, puree soup in blender, adding water by 1/4 cupfuls if too thick. Return to same pot.
- Stir in cream. Season with salt and pepper.
Divide among bowls. Drizzle with chile paste. Swirl paste into soup; serve.