Cannellini Bean Soup
I grew up eating a soup referred to only as "minestra" made of chicken broth, red beans and spinach. Minestra is really just the Italian word for soup-used by the Italian Americans to describe their family's soup. Anyway, I just adore beans soups and nowhere are they more delicious than in Tuscany where the term "manga fagiola," or "bean eaters," refers to the important role this dietary staple plays in their culture. I've enjoyed many delicious bean soups on my visits in Italy. I developed this recipe to showcase the incredible bean flavor of some imported heirloom beans I received from my Tuscan friend. This soup only tastes better if made a day ahead making it perfect for do-ahead entertaining.
- 2 1/2 cups dry cannellini beans
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 2 onions, chopped (about 2 cups)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 5 small (6-inch) long carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise, and sliced (about 1 1/4 cups)
- 4 celery stalks (the tender inner stalks with leaves), peeled and chopped (about 1 1/4 cups)
- 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes, fresh or canned
- 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 tablespoon coarse salt
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Rinse the beans well and place in a large pot. Cover the beans with 4 quarts of water. Bring to a boil, cover, and turn off the heat. Allow to soak for 1 hour.
- Place the olive oil, onions, and garlic in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. When the garlic begins to sizzle, after about 30 seconds, add the carrots and celery and continue to cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, basil, and parsley and cook, stirring occasionally, for an additional 3 minutes.
- Add 6 cups of the soaked beans, cover with 10 cups of cold water, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, partially covered, until the beans are tender and creamy, at least 1 1/2 but up to 2 1/2 hours. Add water if necessary to achieve desired consistency; the soup should be thick. Add the salt halfway through the cooking. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, freshly black ground black pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil.