Saturday, April 16, 2011

"Tuscan" White Bean Soup

For a few days now, I have been sniffling away- yep, I got the cold! And I was craving for a nice bowl of warm, hearty and flavorful Tuscan White Bean soup. So off I went to the store the other day to get the ingredients- basically for a couple cans of white beans. I found the Great Northern kind (apparently there are 3 kinds of white beans- Cannellini, Great Northern and Navy [white beans that got popular in the Navy.......hence the name]). Picked up a couple cans and a few other items and came back home. I later realized that I forgot to get swiss chard that I was intending to use in the soup. Well, decided to make-do with spinach, that I usually have in my refrigerator.

The Ingreds: 

1. 2 cans of white beans
2. 1 good size red onion
3. 1 carrot
4. 3-4 cloves of garlic
5. 2 Veggie Stock cubes (you could use chicken or beef or any meat stock, if you like)
6. Herbs (I used sage, thyme, rosemary) &/or herb blend
7. Salt, pepper, some oil or butter or a combo (why not?!)
8. Spinach (Swiss chard would be better)

The Basic Ingreds
The Method:

1. Get that pot going on the stove with a little bit of oil or butter or both.
2. Throw in the garlic and onions. Sautee for a couple minutes and then add the carrots in. Sautee again. There is no need to really cook the onions and carrots as they will anyway get cooked in the next couple steps.
3. And then you add the lovely white beans to this. Now I usually prefer to drain canned beans and give them a quick wash before incorporating them into my cooking. But in this case, I don't mind using them straight from the can because the beans are soaking in salt water without any added preservatives. At least that's what the label claims! Pretty sure they can't lie about that, can they?
4. At this point I also add herbs and a couple cubes of veggie stock--- you know, to get the flavor going. I add an extra cup of water to get the desired consistency. There is no real need to add extra salt as the beans themselves have the salt and the veggie stock has the salt. Cover the pot and let it simmer for about 15 minutes.
5. After 15 minutes have elapsed, I open the lid and with my ladle, mash up some of the beans right there, in the soup. This helps add some more creaminess to the soup. And finally, after switching off the stove, I add the spinach (swiss chard would be better) leaves right on top of that soup and cover the lid. The spinach will wilt because of all that heat from the soup.

Spinach on top of the soup
Hearty, Creamy & Flavorful!
And then before serving, I sprinkle some freshly ground pepper and the soup is ready to be eaten!

Aah! That soup smelled, looked and tasted delicious, full of flavor (thanks, veggie stock and the other herbs!). The best part was that there was no added cream nor all purpose flour--- the beans are pretty creamy by themselves and the consistency turns out perfect because of the mashing of some of those beans (See Step 5). And we didn't miss the swiss chard either! We had some whole wheat rustic bread on the side to dunk into that soup-- mmm, so satisfying!

Not sure what was "Tuscan" about the soup, but there, I fulfilled my craving for that nice bowl of warm, hearty and flavorful "Tuscan" White Bean soup!

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