Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Florentine White Bean Soup - YUM

Today was errand day - in the heat.  The really, really hot heat.  The super humid unbearable heat.  The summertime makes you sweat heat.   The "I don't want to go outside" heat.  Yes, 99% humidity this morning before 7 am heat.  The "it's been above 90" every day and it's not even August yet heat.  This kind of heat saps your energy and makes you lazy.  At least, that's my excuse  (not sure what your excuse is).  Anyway, after lots of trips to and from, up and down, in and out of the car today, (in the heat) I did not want to cook dinner, but I certainly did not want to go back out in the heat.

I try to keep some "basics" in my pantry at all times.  I always have chicken stock in a box, there are always some cans of beans, tomato sauce, you know - the basics.  Well, it was time to think about dinner and I did not want to grill because that meant going outside  - yes, in the heat.  I know it's hot, but I am always up for a good bowl of soup especially if it's as quick and easy as this recipe.  Yum, Yum, Yum.

This recipe is from a Williams- Sonoma book called Food Made Fast - Soup.  Those are my three most favorite words, food made fast.  Soup is probably my most favorite food.  It is the one thing I really like to eat "left over."  Otherwise, I am not always a big fan of left overs.  Fortunately, I had everything on hand to make this delicious Florentine White Bean Soup.

What does "Florentine" mean?  It means there is spinach in the recipe and we love spinach so this is what we had for dinner with mozzarella/basil quesadillas.  Yes, my own little "side" invention for this evening's dinner.  Here is the recipe for this quick and easy soup.  It gives you protein, fiber, vegetables and deliciousness at a really reasonable price!  It only takes about 30 minutes to make and is waaaaaaay better than a can of Campbell's or Progresso.  Here is what you do:


Olive oil, 2 TBSPs
5 slices bacon  (the recipe calls for Pancetta but it's too hard to find and it is just Italian bacon)
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 TBSP tomato paste
4 cups (1 box) chicken broth
2 cans (14.5 oz) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed  (white kidney beans are the same thing)
2 cups fresh baby spinach

salt and freshly ground pepper
a pinch of red pepper flakes (that is my addition, you don't have to use it)

1.  Sautee the vegetables

Lay the bacon slices on top of each other and cut the bacon across the grain in 1/2 inch  slices.    Heat up your large saucepan over medium heat.  Saute the bacon until it is brown and remove it from the pan, draining on paper towels.  Drain all the remaining bacon fat from the pan.  Put the pan back on the stove and add 2 TBSPs of olive oil.  Add the onions and carrots and saute until they are soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and oregano and cook, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes.

2.  Finish the Soup

Stir in the tomato paste, mixing well.  Add the broth and the beans.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium.  Add the spinach and cook until it is wilted and the flavors have blended, about 10 minutes.  Add the bacon.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Add a pinch or two of red pepper flakes.  Ladle the soup into bowls and serve.

This is a 30 minute meal.  It is filling and delicious.  I know, I spent the first paragraph talking about the heat and then I recommend soup for dinner.  I don't consider soup just a cold weather meal and we have left overs for lunch tomorrow.  Yay!

For my sandwich accompaniment, I made mozzarella quesadillas.  Yes, it's a mix of food cultures but it really works!  Here is what I did:

Flour tortillas
mozzarella cheese - you can use fresh, shredded or slice some from a block
fresh basil leaves
olive oil

Heat a large skillet with about a tablespoon of olive oil.  Place mozzarella slices or shredded mozzarella on 1/2 of the tortilla and chifonade the basil leaves and sprinkle them over the mozzarella.  Fold the other half of the tortilla over the cheese.  Put the quesadilla in the hot oil and cook until the cheese begins to melt and the tortilla starts to brown.  Lift it up with a spatula to see how it is browning.  When it has reached the color you want, flip it over and brown on the other side.  Remove from pan and cut into pieces.  I made us each one for supper and it is a great "sandwich" for the soup.  So good!

 Don't be frustrated by the heat.  Stay inside where it's cool and fix a super quick, super easy, super tasty meal for you and your family.  There's always time for a home cooked meal.  Enjoy!

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

“A home is a place where a pot of fresh soup simmers gently on the
hob, filling the kitchen with soft aromas… and filling your heart,
and later your tummy, with joy.”
~ Keith Floyd


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