From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...This fast and simple riff on the classic Tuscan Bean Soup has just saved my bacon. The quick bread I had intended to feature tonight was a complete and utter failure. It cemented to the no-stick pan in which it baked and when it finally released it looked like the debris on either side an earthquake fault-zone. Worse still, its taste and texture left much to be desired and I was not inclined to give the recipe another try. I did, however, still need something to share with you tonight and I needed it quickly. Fortunately, I had seen this recipe on Serious Eats at the beginning of the year and had made it for a family lunch at that time. I loved the recipe as it was written, but had made notes in the margin of my printed copy, and I thought tonight would be the perfect time to test the recipe with my changes in place. Save for the greens, this is a pantry soup that takes minutes to prepare. It comes very close to the Tuscan classic that inspired it, though it is much faster to make. As you skim through the ingredient list, please note that you'll want to save the almost gelatinous liquid in which the beans are packed. It lends flavor to the soup, but it contains sodium so you'll want to watch how much additional salt you add to the soup. When served with a crusty peasant bread and a bright green salad, you'll have the makings of a wonderful family meal. The soup keeps well but the greens will quickly lose that bright color that makes them so appealing. Unfortunately, green vegetables tend to lose their color quickly when cooked. This happens because cooking releases acids in the vegetables that react with chlorophyll, the substance that is responsible for their green color. The acids and heat destroy some of the chlorophyll, and by degrees those lovely greens turn gray. Blanching works in some preparations but it doesn't help much with soups. My advice - eat quickly. I know that those of you who try this recipe will be pleased. Here is how the soup is made.
Greens and Beans - A Tuscan-Inspired Bean Soup...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite inspired by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt and Serious Eats
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
1 cup finely diced onion
1 cup finely diced carrot
1 cup finely diced celery
4 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
3 (15-ounce) cans white beans (cannellini or great northern), with their liquid
4 6-inch sprigs rosemary, leaves finely chopped and stems reserved
1 (3-4 inch) chunk Parmesan rind (optional)
2 bay leaves
4 cups mixed baby spinach and kale
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Parmigiano-Reggiano for serving
1) Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onions, carrots, and celery and cook, stirring frequently, until softened but not browned, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and dried red pepper flakes and cook, stirring constantly until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add vegetable broth, beans and their liquid, rosemary stems, Parmesan rind, and bay leaves. Increase heat to high, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a bare simmer, add spinach and kale mixture, cover and cook for 15 minutes.
2) Discard bay leaves and rosemary stems. Use a hand blender to roughly puree a portion of bean mixture until desired consistency is reached. Alternatively, transfer 2 cups of soup to a blender or food processor and process until smooth (start on low speed and increase to high to prevent blender blow-out). Return puree to soup and stir to combine. Stir in cider vinegar and season to taste with salt and pepper.
3) Ladle into bowls, sprinkle with reserved chopped rosemary leaves, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and a grating of Parmigiano-Reggiano, and serve hot with crusty bread. Yield: 6 servings.
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