Saturday, September 11, 2010

Tuscan White Bean Soup (Vegan, Gluten Free)



Old fashioned comfort foods are back in style with this modest pot of beans in a creamy tomato base soup. Of course, some of us never stopped cooking with dried beans, for we know that they are handy (they store nearly indefinitely), reliable, inexpensive, practical, and extremely good for you. In short, they're indispensable.


Dried beans need to be soaked in water for several hours before cooking, so on a bleary day when there are gray cloud outside saying "stay in", head to the kitchen, fill up a pot water, and toss in some beans. Hours later when the beans are ready to be cooked, this hearty soup will feed 6 people or you're lucky enough to be serving only two or three people, you'll be able to store nicely for a few days in the fridge. You will have a ready made hearty meal when you come home from work starved.

Dried cannellini beans or other white beans, garlic, onions, carrots and celery create a thick white puree at the heart of this country style Tuscan soup.



Serves 6


Ingredients


1 1/2 cups dried cannellini or other white beans
1 bay leaf
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 celery rib, finely chopped
3 medium tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
3 cups boiling water
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Olive oil to serve


Directions
  1. Pick over the beans carefully, discarding any stones or other particles. Rinse thoroughly in cold water. Then soak in large bowl of cold water for several hours or overnight.
  2. Drain the beans and place them in a large saucepan of water. Bring to boil and cook for 20 minutes. Drain and return the beans to the pan, cover with cold water and bring to boil again. Add the bay leaf and cook for 1-2 hours until the beans are tender, Drain again. Remove the bay leaf.
  3. Puree about three-quarters of the beans in a food processor to create a smooth paste.
  4. Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Stir in the onion and cook until it softens. Add the carrot and celery and cook for 5 minutes more, until they are soft but not mushy.
  5. Stir in the tomatoes, garlic and thyme. Cook for 6-8 minutes more, stirring often.
  6. Pour in the boiling water. Stir in the beans and the bean puree. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  7. Serve the soup in individual bowls sprinkled with a little olive oil.



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