"Reclaiming Homemade in a Small Space"

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Cannellini Tuscan Bean Soup

HURRY!  Before it gets too warm, make this soup!  Actually, it is never too warm in the Smith house for soup.  We love it fall, winter, spring and summer.  But if you are one that only eats soup when it is cold, you might change your mind when you try this one.  It is sooo good.  I am not actually sure where I found this recipe.  I am sure that my husband, Matt,  probably sent it to me.  I wish I could give credit where credit is due, because this soup is fabulous!  Did I mention that it was easy too?  Good for those busy weeknights when you don't have a lot of time to prepare dinner.  Chop a few veggies, open a few cans....dinner!

I hadn't heard of cannellini beans until I tried this soup.  They are a white Italian kidney bean, similar in flavor to navy beans or Great northern beans.  They come canned or dried.  At first, I couldn't find them where we lived at the time, so the recipe didn't get made. A new grocery store opened up near us and they carried Bush's canned cannellini beans.  I bought the cans and made this soup one night.  YUM!  If you can't find cannellini beans where you are, just try using navy or Great northern beans.

Cannellini Tuscan Bean Soup:
Printable recipe
4 slices thick cut bacon, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 - 15 oz. cans of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
4 c. chicken stock
1/2 c. dry white wine
1 bay leaf
salt to taste

2 T. olive oil
2 T. minced garlic
1/2 t. crushed red pepper
1/4 c. fresh basil, sliced
salt to taste

In a Dutch oven over medium high heat, cook bacon, carrot, onion and celery for about 5 to 7 minutes.  Don't get the bacon crispy...it will be blended into the soup.

 Add the garlic and cook for a minute more.

Now is the time to add your beans.
Add the chicken broth, wine, bay leaf and about 1 t. salt.  Cover and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes.  While this is simmering away, it is time to prep the topping.  In a small skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add minced garlic, crushed red pepper and a pinch of salt until garlic is ever so slightly browned around the edges.  Take off the heat and add basil.  Stir it around until basil is wilted.
  I didn't have any fresh basil on hand so I subbed in 2 t. dried basil.  Set aside.

After the soup as finished simmering, whip out your immersion blender.
Place in the soup at a slight (slight!) angle and turn on.   If you leave it straight up and down, it will take forever for the soup to puree.  If you tilt it too much, you will be mad at me for suggesting it while you wipe down your walls that are covered in sticky, hot soup!
Correct angle
Straight up and down....wrong!
If you don't have an immersion blender...don't despair!  You can put the soup either in your blender or a food processor.  But please keep in mind that hot liquids need more space to blend than cold ones.  If you fill the blender or food processor past half full....again, you will be mad at me while you wipe down walls covered in sticky, hot soup.  So use caution!  After you've blended your soup, it should be completely smooth.  Taste it to adjust your seasoning at this time.
Add a pinch of the topping to each bowl and serve with a nice salad and some crusty bread!
Some other notes before you get started.  I didn't use canned beans when I did this recipe this time.  I have a wonderful access to dried cannellini beans so I used a pound of dried beans.   I did the basic overnight soak of the beans and then cooked them for 2 hrs.  before proceeding with the rest of the recipe.  You also do not have to blend the soup, but I feel like you will lose some in the texture if you do not.  Lastly, if you do not want to use wine, substitute 1/2 c. chicken stock.  I already mentioned my substitution of the dried basil for fresh.    And here is a bonus for reading to the end:  One cup is only 157 calories and has 9.4 grams of fiber!  Good for you and delicious!

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