Monday, October 25, 2010

Meatless Monday & Unprocessed: Tomato & White Bean Soup

With the brisk weather and the coming of fall I've been on a bit of a soup kick lately.  The last few days have been particularly grey which only intensified my soup craving.  I so didn't feel like leaving the house to put together the week's Meatless Monday so I came up with this soup using simple items I always have on hand.  It is inspired by one of my favorite Tuscan dishes, Fagioli all'Uccelletto.

The ingredients in this soup are pantry staples that I think everyone should keep since they make throwing together a quick meal infinitely easier.  Carrots, celery, onions and garlic are the perfect base for soups and canned white beans are great on their own or in salad or soups or stews.  Since starting Unprocessed October I've made them from dried and keep them in the fridge the way I would keep cans in my pantry.  They are so easy to make fresh and have so much more flavor that I don't know if I will ever buy canned beans again.  

I used to buy and keep commercially canned tomatoes, but at the end of August the boy and I decided to can 2 bushels of farm fresh Roma tomatoes.  It was pretty grueling and took a whole day, but seeing my 40+ jars line up on a shelf in the basement makes it all worth it.  Being able to just pull from that shelf whenever I want to make sauce or soup and know where the tomatoes came from and exactly what is each jar is so satisfying.   Upon opening a new jar I am immediately hit with the smell of summer and sun-kissed tomatoes fresh off the vine.  It bring me back to childhood and eating a big juicy tomato like an apple while swinging on my blue and white swing set outside of our home in Shelburne, VT.  

Tomato & White Bean Soup
serve 4

1 carrot - diced
1 celery stalk - diced
1 medium onion - diced
2 cloves of garlic - minced 
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsps balsamic vinegar
4 cups of canned whole tomatoes in juice - roughly chopped (or you can just use crushed tomatoes)
1 cup boiling water
1 parmesan rind - cut into 4 pieces
2 cups cooked white beans
2 springs of sage
crushed red pepper
salt & pepper to taste
Extra Virgin Olive Oil for serving

1. Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium low heat.  Add the carrots, celery, onions and a pinch of crushed red pepper and saute for 5 minutes until carrots begin to soften.  Add the minced garlic and saute for 5 more minutes, being careful not to let the garlic brown.
2.  Add the balsamic vinegar and cook for another 5 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and boiling water and bring to a simmer.  Once simmering, add salt & pepper to taste.   Add the white beans, parmesan rind and sage, cover and let simmer for 15 minutes.
3.  Serve with crusty whole wheat bread and a drizzle of olive oil.

This soup may be my new healthier alternative to my favorite Tomato Soup.  It's packed with flavor and only takes about 30 minutes to make. The cheese adds a saltiness and give the promise of a gooey parmesan filled bite.  The beans make it hearty and the crushed red pepper flake as a welcome kick.

I'm adding in how I make my white beans and I swear once you try them you'll never buy canned again.  

White beans

3 cups of dried white beans  - Cannellini or White Kidney or Great Northern
cold water
3 sprigs of sage
2 Tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic - crushed

1.  Place white beans in a bowl or container with a lid and cover with water 1" above the beans.  Cover and place in the fridge for 2 nights.  Check periodically and add more water as necessary.
2.  After the beans have soaked pour them with their soaking liquid into a cast iron pot or another heavy-bottomed pot.  Add more water if necessary so it is above the beans.  Add in the sage, garlic and olive oil. Bring to a boil and then cover and simmer over low for 1 hour.
3.  Check for tenderness after 1 hour and simmer longer if necessary.  Let cool and keep covered in an airtight container in the fridge for 1-2 weeks.

These beans are packed with so much more flavor than canned beans and they add that flavor to every dish they are used with.  I love them tossed with olive oil, flat leaf parsley, salt & pepper or pureed and added into stews to thicken them.


1 comment:

Jess said...

This looks amazing. I'm going to make this stat. Easy and delicious, and involve all of my favorite ingredients!

And I love the new format of your blog! beautiful.