Thursday, May 21, 2009

Creamy Italian White Bean Soup



Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and MySpace are quickly making the four corners of the world seem ever closer. Like countless others, I've been caught up in the fun of reuniting with high school and college pals, checking out the family pictures, seeing where everyone wound up and succumbing to the generally voyeuristic tendencies that these sites expose you to. 12 days till your vacation you say? Thumbs up, we like that. Had a few too many last weekend and posted the pictures to prove it? I may just have to see for myself. But tell me you just made a mean batch of carrot nut muffins? I am all over that like the tabloids on Jon and Kate.

My delightful high school friend Penelope of Smartini has been providing me with some much needed blogging guidance and is also responsible for the aforementioned carrot nut muffin recipe. As she shares my love of all things healthy and tasty, I asked if she might be interested in a guest post. She happily obliged with this amazing looking recipe that I surely will be making soon. I am honored to have her witty words and yummy recipe grace the pages of my little ol' blog. Thanks Penelope!

Hello from the East Coast! I’d like to share a recipe that I tried recently from The Daily Green, an eco-living site that has a fabulous recipe source organized by nutrition sources; calcium, beta carotene, etc. I found this recipe for white bean soup under “iron,” and judging by the outcome, I will surely be trying additional recipes on this site. The soup is fairly simple, but flavorful, and was received well by my very non-vegetarian husband. I myself am an omnivore, but fully appreciate vegetarian recipe that is not only delicious, but packed with good nutrition. As we are fast approaching summer, I would recommend this recipe for a rainy evening, and/or a lazy Sunday. I had the idea that it would pair well with steak, and it did!

Creamy Italian White Bean Soup
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 medium celery stalk, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cans (15 1/2 to 19 ounces each) white kidney beans (cannellini), rinsed and drained*
1 3/4 cups vegetable broth
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cups water
1 bunch (10 to 12 ounces) spinach
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

*I used white Northern beans, they worked fine.

PREPARATION
1. In 3-quart saucepan, heat oil over medium heat until hot. Add onion and celery* and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Add garlic, cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Add beans, broth, pepper, thyme, and water; heat to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat to low; simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes.

*I didn’t have celery at the time, so substituted a little celery seed to capture that flavor. The chopped onion will address texture.

2. Meanwhile, trim tough stems from spinach and discard; thinly slice leaves.*

*Kitchen shears can save you time on this front, and make the slicing smoother.

3. With slotted spoon, remove 2 cups bean and vegetable mixture from soup; set aside. Spoon half of remaining mixture into blender; cover, with center part of cover removed to let steam escape, and puree until smooth.* Pour into large bowl. Repeat with remaining mixture.

*Okay, I’m going to be honest here and admit that I have used this hot-soup-in-the-blender method in the past, and it has not ended well. It’s messy, and you may, if you are at all klutzy like me, burn your skin off. My new trick is to plug in the hand mixer with milkshake attachment and blend away, right in the pot. Since you are only supposed to be blending half, in order to achieve creamy texture while keeping the rest of the beans intact, just blend a little bit. Eyeball it, and stop when you’ve got a creamy broth with a fair amount of whole beans left.

4. Return soup to saucepan; stir in reserved beans and vegetables. Heat to boiling over high heat, stirring occasionally. Stir in spinach and cook until wilted, about 1 minute. Stir in lemon juice and remove from heat. Serve with Parmesan, if you like.*

*Yes, with the Parmesan. Also, this recipe reheats very well the next day—if there is any left. Enjoy!

Yummy soup image courtesy of
The Daily Green

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1 comment:

The Wino said...

this soup sounds great! I will save it for a cooler time of the year!