TUSCAN HERB WHITE BEAN SOUP

Tuscan Herb White Bean Soup

I love making soup in the fall and winter.  It's a hearty and wholesome one-pot meal that requires very little attention while it simmers away on the stove.  Add a green salad and whole grain bread to round out the meal.  

My favorite day to make soup is Sunday.   There's something about the smell wafting through the house that is so comforting.  Then to tuck into a hot bowl in the evening while your'e gearing up for the week ahead makes Monday morning seem a bit more manageable.

This recipe is a classic white bean soup seasoned with rosemary, thyme, and bay. You can use any dried white bean, but I generally prefer cannellini or, if I'm lucky enough to have them on hand, an heirloom variety from Rancho Gordo - the flavor and freshness are unmatched.  For this soup I used their Yellow Eye Beans, which I picked up over the summer in San Francisco when visiting family.  

Tuscan Herb White Bean Soup

1/2 pound dried white beans (navy, great northern, or cannellini)

1 large yellow onion, finely diced
2 carrots, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
8 sprigs thyme
6 sprigs parsley, plus more for topping
2 tsp. fresh rosemary, minced
4 cups vegetable broth
4 cups water
salt and pepper

Pick through beans, remove any debris or broken pieces, and rinse.  Soak for 12-16 hours, changing the water at least once during soaking.  (Make sure the beans are covered by several inches of water as they will at least double in size.)

In a large dutch oven or stock pot, sauté onion, carrot, celery, and garlic until fragrant and starting to brown - about 5 minutes.  While veggies are cooking, make a "bouquet garni" by wrapping the thyme, parsley, and bay leaf with cooking twine and tying tightly together (this makes it easier to remove the herbs / stems later on).  When the vegetables are just browned, add the drained and rinsed beans, bouquet garni, 1 tsp. rosemary, vegetable broth, and water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer for 1.5-2 hours, until the beans are tender. Cooking time will vary greatly depending on the size and age of your beans.  Start checking for doneness after 1 hour.  When beans are tender, remove bouquet garni, add remaining teaspoon rosemary, and season with salt and pepper.  Let simmer another 10-15 minutes or until ready to serve. Garnish individual bowls with chopped fresh parsley for a bit of brightness.  A drizzle of olive oil and a few grinds of black pepper is also nice.  

This soup keeps very well and is great reheated throughout the week. You can also freeze individual servings for mid-winter stockpiling.