Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Italian White Bean Soup with Herbed Croutons

Do you ever go to the Farmers' Market or grocery store without having any idea about what you're going to purchase or make for dinner, but when you get there you want to buy everything?  Well I went to the Farmers' Market on Saturday morning and just grabbed whatever looked good, which was really hard because everything looked good!  Also my husband has been asking me to purchase purple cauliflower for quite a long time now and so this soup is for him.  If you can't find purple cauliflower, white or orange will work just as well.  Actually, a soup or entree made with a combination of all three colors would be really beautiful!  Also, I used Rainbow Swiss Chard in this soup, but you can substitute green kale, or Cavolo Nero (Italian black kale) if you can find it at your market.

Below is a photo of my Farmers' Market shopping spree.  It's only Tuesday and I have just about used up all of my produce.  I've made a strawberry-lime sorbet, heirloom-tomato sandwiches and numerous green smoothies.  Lucky for me we live in the Bay Area and there is a farmers' market just about everyday of the week, all within a short driving distance from my home.

Whole Wheat Croutons

4-5 cups cubed artisan whole wheat bead, crusts removed and sliced into 1-2" cubes
1 tbsp minced fresh rosemary
1 tbsp minced fresh thyme
2 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp dried oregano flakes, crumbled
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • In a large bowl whisk together herbs, vinegar and olive oil, and add diced bread cubes.  Toss to coat and season with salt and pepper.
  • Place on a sheet tray and bake for about 20-30 minutes until golden brown and crunchy.  Toss croutons frequently for even cooking and to prevent burning.
Soup Ingredients:

1 medium yellow onion, diced small
2 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf
1 head purple cauliflower, broken into small pieces and roasted
2 cups fresh green beans, stems removed and cut on a 2" bias, blanched
2 cups cooked cannellini beans
6-8 cups vegetable stock
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
2 tbsp finely minced fresh basil leaves

  • Turn up oven temperature to 400 degrees.
  • Toss cauliflower with 1 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper and roast for about 15 minutes until crisp-tender and lightly charred.  
  • In a large pot or dutch oven, heat 1 tbsp olive oil and saute onions and garlic until soft.  Add crushed red pepper, rosemary sprig, bay leaf, 6 cups of vegetable stock and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.
  • Add drained cooked cannellini beans and simmer for about 30 minutes for flavors to combine and soup to thicken slightly.
  • While soup is cooking, blanch green beans for about 2-3 minutes in salted boiling water and rinse under cold water.  Drain and set aside.
  • Just before serving add in chard, green beans and cauliflower and heat through.  Add more veg stock if needed and check seasonings.
  • Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with croutons, fresh basil and a drizzle of olive oil if desired.


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