Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Very Hearty Tuscan White Bean Soup

Wednesday, January 4, 2012
My first attempt at soup making began two nights ago when my husband requested the hearty Tuscan white bean soup recipe from Cooks Illustrated's: Soups, Stews, and Chilis. I liked the choice because it included things I had never done (soak beans, ingest kale) and I decided to add some chicken to the recipe to turn it into a meal for the whole family. The baby would receive some white beans, carrot and chicken from the soup and The little man would get a personalized bowl of soup heavy on the beans and chicken and minus the kale and tomatoes which were immediately rejected due to color alone.

The recipe called for dried white beans which meant that I had to sort threw them and pick out any bad ones I saw and then soak the pound of beans in a salt water bath that consisted of 16 cups of water and three tablespoons of salt for at least eight hours or up until 24 hours. Making sure to rinse thouroughly before adding them to the soup. They looked like this the next day when I was done soaking:
While the boys were taking there naps I chopped everything up and began to cook the bacon (the recipe called for pancetta but the butcher at the grocery didn't have it) in our dutch oven on the stovetop in the bit of oil for about eight minutes. When it started looking a nice brown I added the onions and celery and cooked for another twelve minutes:

I then added the garlic and cooked for about 30 seconds until it became fragrant (and boy was it!). I quickly added the broth, water, bay leaves, and the rinsed beans and turned up the heat to medium-high until boiling at which time I threw the cover on it and popped it in the oven to cook for bout 50 minutes.

I took it out of the oven and added the chopped kale, carrots, and diced tomatoes which really looked lovely together:

Then just put it back in the oven for another 30 minutes. Out it came, I pushed the sprig of rosemary down into it and covered the pot and let rest for 15 minutes. Then I uncovered and fished out the bay leaves and rosemary and chucked them. I added salt and pepper (frankly maybe a little too much pepper). The soup was done

et voila:

I baked a chicken breast for 40 minutes that I marinated in italian dressing chopped some pieces up into bits and added some to each of our servings: The rest of the soup I div-eed up for my husband's lunch and had about four servings left and threw it in the freezer so we'll see how that does on re-thaw.

I enjoyed this soup because it was pretty much a meal (we each had a dinner roll too), it got me to try kale which was actually kind of tasteless so I felt good about that and healthy, and although it seems like a lot written out it really wasn't hard. Next time I think I would add more bacon (I really didn't catch any of that flavor in my bowl and I'm a big fan of bacon). To me the skins of the beans were a little to noticeable so I'm going to do a little research on beans to see where I went wrong there.

Now what to do with the other half of the bunch of kale?

4oz bacon (or 6oz pancetta)
1tbsp evoo
1large onion, chopped med
2 celery ribs, chopped med
8 garlic cloves, minced or pressed (I pressed but my fingers still smell)!
5cups low-sodium chicken broth
3cups water
1pound dried cannellini beans, salt soaked and rinsed
2 bay leaves
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes drained and rinsed
1/2 bunch of kale stemmed and chopped into 1 inch pieces
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 sprig fresh rosemary
salt and ground black pepper

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