So, I’ve received just a tiny bit of flack for featuring a veggie dish that contained prosciutto in the Veggie Dinners post and sought to rectify the situation. In my defense, the second recipe was strictly vegetarian, but I understand that there is a ‘truth-in-advertising’ issue with a post titled “Veggie Dinners” that features prosciutto. Lest I invoke the wrath of any more vegetarians, I will own that the base of this soup is a chicken stock – because that is what I always have on hand – but vegetable stock could easily be used as a substitute.
Tuscan White Bean Soup is a recipe that is both categorically healthy – carrots, white beans, and kale constitute its base – and all succor, warmth, and comfort. It is not every recipe that can soothe both the spirit and the body, but this recipe does so perfectly.
This is a lazy, rainy Sunday dish – while it takes a few hours from start to finish, few of the stages require more than the most perfunctory of efforts. There is no vigor with this soup – it is all calm, whiling away the hours, watching rain run down windows, perusing DVD collections, and wrapping-up in a blanket.
This particular recipe is a mix of two separate recipes that I came across. I liked the ingredient list in From Our House to Yours, which features the recipe from Janet Fletcher’s Fresh From the Farmers’ Market, but the preparation was just a tad too tedious for me (and would have turned it into a Lazy Week recipe), so I incorporated a few of the steps from Italian Classics that would help to speed the process up a bit. The result is an easy recipe that can be started late morning and enjoyed early to mid-afternoon.
Tuscan White Bean Soup with Kale
1lb. Dried Cannellini Beans
10 Cups Water
1 Tbls. + 2 Tsp. Salt
¼ Cup Olive Oil
2 Onions; 1 chopped, 1 separated into layers
2 Carrots, diced into ½ inch pieces
4 Garlic Cloves, minced
3 Tbls. Fresh Flat-Leaf Parsley, minced
2 Bay Leaves
1 Cup Kale, rough chopped
Freshly Grated Parmesan, Salt & Pepper, to taste
Put the dried cannellini beans, 2 Tsp. of salt, and the onion with layers separated into a large stock pot. Cover with the 10 cups of water. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 1 hour.
Remove the pot from the heat and allow the beans to rest in the oniony liquid for another 30 minutes.
Strain the beans and onions and reserve the simmering liquid for use later.
Heat the ¼ cup of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the uncooked onion, carrots, garlic, parsley, and bay leaves and saute for 10 minutes, until the vegetables begin to soften.
Add the drained beans and onions, chicken stock, and 2 cups of the oniony simmer liquid to the pot. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Bring to a light boil over medium-high heat, cover the pot, and turn the heat down to medium-low. Cook the soup, stirring occasionally for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Remove the bay leaves from the soup. Take 4 cups of the soup from pot and process in a blender or food processor until pureed. Return the puree to the pot and incorporate well and continue to cook over medium-low heat.
Bring a pot of water to a boil, add the 1 Tbls. of salt. Add the roughly chopped kale to the pot and boil for 2-3 minutes. Drain the kale and add to the soup.
If the soup is too thick, you can always add in a bit more of the oniony simmering liquid to thin it out, but I tend to like my soup thick.
When you’re ready to serve, add a little bit of freshly grated parmesan, salt & pepper.