Italian soul food, anyone?
Years ago, there was a small café in my town called the Kozy Kettle. They served about 20 different soups with a complimentary popover on the side. Great concept. Who doesn’t love a good bowl of soup in the fall? I was particularly fond of their white bean soups.
This version pulls inspiration from Tuscany with cannellini beans, sage, and good quality olive oil.
I’ve done it two ways:
Option #1: creamy version
When your beans are tender, ladle half of the soup into a blender and purée until smooth. Garnish with shaved parmesan cheese and garlic croutons, if you’d like. It is really important to purée hot liquids in batches with the lid vented. This will allow the steam to escape properly.
And if you don’t…
You might get burned. When I was in culinary school, my chef-mate was blending cauliflower soup right next to me. It was very tight quarters. There I was, minding my own business when his blender exploded spewing hot soup all over the place… including me! It splashed onto my face and dripped down my chef’s jacket. I had flaming florets stuck to my chest! It was in my eyes too. My chef instructor grabbed my ponytail and dunked my face under the cold tap. Whoa.
I survived. No major burns. But it hurt really bad. This is what happens when you’re not careful.
If I’ve completely traumatized you, you could always use a hand held immersion bender to avoid any blunders.
Option #2: chunky version
If you prefer a more rustic texture, this might be your thing. Here, the beans are left whole and simmered with bacon and sage. It’s a brothy soup. Normally, I use canned beans in my recipes for accessibility and convenience. But when a dish revolves around one main ingredient go for the real deal; dried beans. This will elevate the flavor of your soup. Just remember to soak the beans overnight (do it before you go to bed!).
Find some bread for dunking too…
The Kozy Kettle knew a thing or two about variety. With minimal effort you can easily make this soup, 2 ways. And the best part- it’s all in one pot! Paired with a nice green salad you’ve got yourself a meal. Brownie points for a popover on the side.
- When making the creamy version, the beans should be very soft before blending. If they are the slightest bit al dente, your soup will not be smooth.
- Because of it’s simplicity, this soup (either version) is only as good as its ingredients. Sourcing good quality bacon, chicken stock, and olive oil is worth it. You’ll appreciate the authentic, homemade flavor.
- 1 lb. of cannellini or great northern beans, dried
- 1-2 slices of bacon (I used Applewood-smoked)
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 celery, diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, sliced
- 4 sage leaves
- 2 quarts of low-sodium chicken stock
- 1 tsp. olive oil
- salt + pepper
- garlic croutons
- shaved parmesan cheese
- crusty sourdough bread
- To soak, place the beans into a large bowl and cover with water. Soak overnight.
- In a heavy bottom pot, warm the olive oil over moderate heat. Roughly chop the bacon and add to the pot. Saute until lightly golden.
- Add the onion, celery, garlic, and sage leaves. Saute until soft and translucent, about 5-7 minutes.
- Tilt the pot, and remove most of the residual oil with a spoon.
- Drain the beans and add to the pot.
- Cover with 1 quart of chicken stock and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat, and simmer until the beans are tender about 1- 1½ hours. Season with salt and pepper.
- For the creamy version, remove half of the soup (with a portion of bacon and sage) and transfer to a blender. Vent the lid and puree in batches. Add additional chicken stock if it's too thick. Alternatively, use a hand held immersion blender. Garnish with parmesan cheese and croutons.
- For the chunky version, adjust with salt and pepper to taste, and more stock if needed.
- Serve warm with crusty sourdough bread.
I haven’t baked bread since we moved into our new house. By now, you all know about my shady oven and I didn’t want to be disappointed with its unpredictability. But I took a chance. This loaf came out incredibly light and fluffy, far from what I expected. It just goes to show that sometimes fancy equipment is not needed. Take that, you crappy oven!