Friday, January 11, 2013

Italian White Bean Soup

Both Nick and I studied in Italy Back In The Day when we were young and excited. We didn't know each other then...and went one semester apart, but we both have a lot of the same memories. Specifically food memories-- what wouldn't I do for a piece of quattro formaggia pizza from my favorite little spot in Florence (who knows where it is...I forget and probably could never find it again...), or a bowl of cheesy risotto at the little cafe in Orvieto that we ate our daily meals at.
See? Young. And Excited.

The pizza of my dreams in the far right corner.

 That little cafe also served a killer white bean soup that Nick loved even before he became a bean King in Maine. And so, with the help of Baers Best Beans and my crock pot, I whipped up a pot of it the other night.
Chock filled with Otebo beans (a white, heirloom Japanese variety), carrots, onions, and garlic, it was a stick-to-your-ribs kind of dinner that flooded us with all kinds of Italy nostalgia. Its also a pretty easy soup ingredients wise, although I did cry buckets of tears while dicing the onions...


2 1/4 cups Otebo beans (you could also use cannelini) 
1 tsp olive oil
1.5 large white onions, chopped
8 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
3 oz proscuitto, chopped
3 cups chicken broth
2.5 cups bean broth
2 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp rosemary
salt and pepper
parmesan rind (optional)

Depending on the bean, either soak them over night, or boil them for about fifteen minutes. The thing I've learned about beans is that if they're fresh (like Nicks are) they boil up really quickly. You don't want the beans to be soft when you make the soup, just softened. So, again, with a store bought variety, soak them over night. With a fresh dried bean, boil for fifteen minutes.

Anyway. Chop up the onions, garlic, carrot, and prosciutto, and put them all in a frying pan with a little olive oil until everything is softened. Throw in some salt and pepper to bring out the flavors too.
Transfer all this into the crock pot, and add the beans. Reserve 2.5 cups of the bean liquid when you drain them, and add it to the soup, along with three cups of chicken broth. Throw in the parsley, rosemary, a good amount of pepper, and a bit more salt. Lastly, pop in the rind off of a block of Parmesan. It adds a nice little touch of creaminess. Cover it, and cook it on high for 5-6 hours. 

   So easy, and so tasty. Top it with a little bit of grated Parmesan, and enjoy the warm, filling bowl. 

In other news, one of my very dearest friends arranged a wonderful surprise birthday dinner for me last night. I arrived in Newburyport expecting to have a drink with her, and found four of my closest girlfriends  there as well. It was so wonderful to sit around the table at Agave, our favorite Mexican restaurant, drinking marguerita's, over indulging in the insanely tasty chips and salsa they make from scratch there, and telling stories. I am so lucky to have such dear friends. So lucky.

Have a great weekend. We are heading to my grandma's house after work tomorrow for third Christmas with all the aunts, uncles, and cousins. I hope there will be some snow left for sledding...

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