White bean velouté

White beans themselves make a thick enough purée. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Total time: 2 hours, 45 minutes plus overnight soaking

Servings: 6

1 pound cannellini beans

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup finely chopped carrots

1 cup finely chopped leeks

1/2 cup finely chopped celery

1 teaspoon finely chopped thyme leaves, divided

8 cups chicken broth

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon white pepper, or to taste

1/2 cup grated Gruyère cheese

2 tablespoons whipping cream

1. Soak the beans in water overnight. Drain.

2. Heat the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed stockpot until melted. Add the carrots, leeks and celery and sauté over medium-low heat 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender but not browned.

3. Stir in one-half teaspoon thyme. Add the beans to the pot along with the chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer, partially covered, until the beans are tender, about 2 hours. Add additional water while cooking, if necessary, to keep beans covered. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Purée the soup in a food processor in batches until smooth, then return it to the pot and add the cheese. Heat the soup over low heat, stirring, until the cheese is just melted. Stir in the whipping cream, then remove from heat.

5. Adjust the seasoning if necessary. Spoon into bowls to serve. Garnish each serving with a sprinkle of the remaining thyme.

Each serving: 376 calories; 24 grams protein; 50 grams carbohydrates; 13 grams fiber; 10 grams fat; 6 grams saturated fat; 27 mg. cholesterol; 965 mg. sodium.