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Author Notes: We are officially into the doldrums. That time of the season, and it happens every season, where you have usually eaten all your favorite seasonal foods and all the wind has been knocked out of your taste buds.
You have had your pot roasts, your stews and your ragu and now you are starting to want a change. This is when you usually start slipping in some spring or summer flavors to ease yourself out of the winter blues. It is a good time to pull out the home canned tomato sauce with basil. A blast of summer past in a mason jar is just the right thing. This soup utilizes that tomato flavor but is still hearty enough to warm the bones and fill you up.
note: notice I don’t soak the beans overnight in this recipe. I used to do it that way exclusively but then always had trouble getting the beans tender without being mushy. I have found over the years that this method, for me at least, gives me a bean with a creamy interior and an exterior with tooth. It is your call here. Do it how you feel most comfortable.
Serves 6 to 8
- 1 pound white beans
- 2 tablespoons fresh garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup carrots, peeled, small dice
- 1/2 cup clelery, small dice
- 1 cup yellow onion, small dice
- 2 cups shiitake mushrooms, sliced
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 28 ounces can chopped tomatoes
- 2 x 2 inch cheese rind from a grating cheese like parmesan, pecorino or Manchego
- 2 cups whole wheat, rye, or sourdough 1/2 inch bread cubes
- kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
- extra virgin olive oil
- porcini mushroom infused oil (totally optional)
- Rinse and pick through the beans to remove any stones or dirt. Place the beans into a large pot and cover them with water by 3 inches. Place the pot over high heat and bring it to a boil. Boil the beans for 2 minutes and then turn off the heat and let the beans sit, covered, for 2 hours or until you are ready to cook the soup. Any longer rest then 3 or 4 hours and you should refrigerate the beans.
- Place a large heavy bottomed pot or enameled Dutch oven over medium heat. Once it is warm add a glug of olive oil to coat the bottom of the pot. Add the rosemary and let it sizzle and become fragrant, I do this first so the oil becomes rosemary flavored as well. Then add the onions, celery, carrots, bay leaves, mushrooms and the garlic. Saute the vegetables while stirring them for a minute and then saute them until they begin to soften. About 5 to 10 minutes.
- Drain the beans. Add the beans, veggie stock, tomatoes, and the cheese rind. Season the pot with black pepper but not salt.
- Cook the the soup until the beans are tender. About 45 minutes.
- While the soup is simmering place a saute pan over medium high heat and add 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil. Once it is hot add the bread cubes and toast the bread in the oil until they are brown on all sides. Season them generously with salt and pepper. When they are brown remove them to a paper towel lined plate.
- Once the beans are tender either use an emersion blender or a potato masher and mash some of the beans so the soup becomes creamy. Season the soup with salt. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Fish around and remove the cheese rind.
- Bowl it up hot, drizzle a little porcini oil over it if you are using it and then top with a small handful of croutons.
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