Thursday, January 15, 2009

Soup's on

Baby, it's freaking cold outside! With temperatures in the teens and single digits this past week, I've been avoiding the elements as much as possible and have been cooking up some serious soup...my go-to comfort food when the weather's chilly. I have to say, these two soups are damn tasty -- they're wonderfully hearty, packed with nutrients and flavor and they're crazy simple and speedy to make when you're strapped for time and want a quick, cozy meal. Hope they warm you up a little.
Minestrone
This might be my favorite soup, or rather, stew of all time (excluding my mom's infamous split pea soup). I adapted this soup from my mom's old recipe. Basically I throw a ton of vegetables in along with kidney and white cannelini beans, tomatoes, a little vino and a good parmesan rind (the key to a richer flavor). The soup tends to get more 'stewy' after a day or two when all the flavors meld, that's when you know it's really ready to eat. Can't go wrong with a good, thick pot full of flavorful winter veggies!

Ingredients
1 small yellow onion, diced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 15 oz can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 15 oz can white cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
3-4 carrots, chopped
2-3 celery stalks, chopped
1-2 zucchini, chopped
1 small bunch kale or spinach *optional
2 baby red potatoes, cut into small chunks
1 28oz can whole tomatoes *(I'm a big fan of San Marzano)
16-24 oz low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock *depending on how big your pot is and how much you want to make
1 parmesan cheese rind
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup macaroni elbows
1/2 cup dry red wine or sherry
extra parmesan or pecorino romano cheese for grating

In a large stockpot, heat olive oil on medium-high, add garlic cloves and cook about 30 seconds. Add beans and mash just slightly, allow to cook about 2 minutes. Add in carrots through chicken stock and season with salt and pepper. Add in parmesan rind and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 45-50 minutes. Add in macaroni and wine and allow to cook another 10-15 minutes. Remove bay leaves and parmesan rind. Serve with grated parmesan or pecorino romano.


Tuscan White Bean Soup
I typically make this soup with seasonal winter greens like escarole or kale, but I decided to experiment this go-round, leaving the greens out and pureeing the soup in hopes of a thick, hearty finish. It was a great call, though I'm always up for a steaming bowl of old-school escarole and white bean soup. Try toasting up a garlic crouton or two to top off the soup, I think they'd make for the perfect finisher drizzled with a little of the chili oil and some shredded pecorino romano.

Ingredients
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 cans white cannelini beans, rinsed and drained **if you've got the time, soak dried beans overnight and use instead of the canned ones, they're generally cheaper, creamier consistency and way tastier (and soaking them first helps ward off the unwelcome flatulence that often occupanies bean-heavy dishes). The soup make take longer to cook if using dried, soaked beans. Simmer with stock, adding additional stock if needed until beans are throughly cooked and then puree.
48 oz (1.5 quarts) low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 tsp salt (extra to taste) and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4-1/2 tsp red chili flakes *extra for serving
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese and extra for serving
chili-garlic oil for drizzling
In a heavy-bottomed large stockpot, heat olive oil and medium-high and saute garlic about 30 seconds. Add in beans, broth, salt, pepper, and red chili flakes. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for about 45-60 minutes until beans become soft. Add parmesan cheese to soup and puree in food processor in batches. Pour back into stockpot and serve hot. Drizzle with olive oil studded with red chili flakes and a bit of minced garlic (flavored oil can be made up to a week in advance). Sprinkle with extra parmesan or pecorino romano.

2 comments:

roseofbohemia said...

How many servings does the white bean soup make? It looks great! Thanks for posting the recipe!

Marissa said...

Hi there. The white bean soup makes 4-6 servings. Hope you like it!