Diane Rossen Worthington
White Bean Soup Recipe
Recently I received an e-mail from a reader. He wrote that he had been cooking for 10 years and considered himself a competent cook. He said he made this soup for his wife, and she said, "it was the best thing he ever made -- not the best soup, but the best THING."
That made my day. I love this soup because it is easy to make and delivers great flavor without extra calories. It has a velvety texture because the beans naturally take on a creamy consistency when cooked. Better yet, no cream is added. Wilted spinach leaves added just before serving bring a vibrant green accent of color. If you don't have white beans, you can substitute dried lima beans
If you are in a hurry, do the quick soak method to soften the beans. Cooking beans can be tricky because you never know how old the beans are, unless you are buying heirloom beans from a local farmer. The older the beans are, the longer they will take to cook.
Wait until the beans are soft before you add salt, acids such as citrus or vinegar, or sugar; these flavorings can toughen the beans. Serve this soup along with crusty French bread for a satisfying lunch or supper.
-- Use Swiss chard instead of the spinach
-- Add 1/2 cup cooked thin noodles to the soup just before serving
-- Garnish with favorite pesto instead of tomatoes, herbs and Parmesan
-- Float a couple of cheese croutons on top as a garnish
White Bean Soup With Tomatoes and Spinach
2 cups Great Northern or other white beans
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
2 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely chopped, or 1 cup canned diced tomatoes
3 garlic cloves, minced
8 cups chicken or vegetable stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 bunch fresh spinach leaves, cleaned and shredded into chiffonade
1 tomato, peeled, seeded and finely diced
1/4 cup finely chopped mixed fresh herbs, like chives, thyme and parsley
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1. Soak the beans overnight in enough cold water to generously cover; or do a quick soak by bringing them to a boil in water to cover, boiling for 2 minutes, covering and letting stand for 1 hour. Drain beans.
2. In a 6-quart soup pot, heat the oil on medium heat and add the onions. Saute for about 5 minutes, or until softened stirring occasionally. Add the carrots and tomatoes and saute for another 3 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook another minute. Add the chicken stock and beans. Bring to a simmer, partially cover and cook for about 1 hour or until the beans are tender.
3. In a food processor fitted with the metal blade or with a hand blender, process the soup until pureed. Put the soup through a strainer into a large saucepan.
4. Reheat the soup over medium heat and add salt, pepper, parsley, vinegar and cayenne pepper. Add the spinach and cook for about 2-3 minutes or until the spinach is cooked but still bright green. Taste for seasoning.
5. Garnish the soup with the diced tomato, herbs and fresh Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.
This White Bean soup recipe can be prepared up to three days ahead through step 3, covered and refrigerated. Reheat gently. This soup also freezes well. Adjust the seasonings when you reheat the frozen soup.
Diane Rossen Worthington is an authority on new American cooking. She is the author of 18 cookbooks (click here), including "Seriously Simple Holidays: Recipes and Ideas to Celebrate the Season," and also a
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White Bean Soup With Tomatoes and Spinach Recipe - Diane Rossen Worthington Recipes
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