After the past two “meat-centric” posts, I think it is time for something with a different protein source. What could be better than a thick savory bean soup?
I’ve always been a fan of soup, it is such a forgiving dish and versatile. And, as someone who lives alone, I really appreciate the ability to freeze individual portions and bring it out as needed. For some reason, I have been craving Tuscan Bean soup, but could not find the recipe that was in mind. I looked through dozens of books, blogs, and online sites. But I could not find “the” recipe. I am not sure what I was looking for, but nothing seemed right. So, I decided to wing it and follow my instincts.
The recipe below is for a very simple soup, it has a touch of meat which could easily be left out if you want. Alternatively, you could also add more sausage if you are looking for a heartier soup. I decided not to add any greens, such as kale or spinach, but it would be great in the soup and I might add some when I am reheating it just to mix it up a bit. I did not add greens today because last week I made a huge kale salad and ate kale almost every day for a week so I am a little “kaled” out and expecting more kale on Wednesday as part of a co-op produce delivery.
3 tablespoons of “Summer” butter (This was blend of fresh herbs and butter I made over the summer while the herbs were plentiful and froze it to use over the winter. The mix I used included garlic, parsley, sage, oregano, basil, thyme. Feel free to substitute a blend of fresh and dried herbs.)
2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
2 pounds of onions, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, minced finely
3-4 ounces of chopped pancetta
1 pound of dried beans, soaked overnight (see note below)
48 ounces of chicken broth
Parmesan rind and/or a few cubes of Parmesan cheese
1 ½ cups of canned tomatoes, chopped and drained
Soak the beans overnight or at least six hours. Rinse the beans well and drain.
Slowly cook the onions in the butter and olive oil until they are close to carmelization. Add the pancetta and cook for a bit longer. Add the beans, stir to coat, and then add broth and Parmesan. Simmer for an hour or two until beans are soft.
Using an immersion blender, slightly blend so the broth has a creamy consistency – I pulsed it about 4 times, 2-3 seconds each time. You could also ladle some of the soup into a blender to puree or skip this step completely.
Add tomatoes and let it simmer for a bit longer, just to heat through and serve. I sprinkled a little more cheese on top.
Note: I used dried beans, but canned would be fine. I think beans rehydrated to equal about 5 cups of canned beans. The cooking time would be greatly reduced.