Saturday, October 4, 2008

Tuscan White Bean Soup

We stopped at the Food Emporium after brunch and got some navy beans, and I found a beautiful slice of parmesean reggiano, and I got a packet of kielbasa (yeah, not Italian, and I thought maybe I won't use it in this dish, but I had a craving). And I found a nice fresh loaf of crusty bread. The Tuscan dish I'm trying to emulate has a good dose of extra virgin olive oil, and I have that in the pantry.

I was reading some health magazine and it was talking about salt. I was shocked to see how much salt is in canned beans - even if you rinse them like I do, it's like 1/2 a day's salt in one serving, which by the way is a 1/2 cup! So, that's why I'm going with dried. I sorted the navy beans and just used the directions on my package (only $1.79 - what a bargain!). I put them in a pot with some water, and brought it to a boil, took it off the heat and let it soak for an hour. After the soak I ran water around the pan and rinsed the beans, and refreshed the water in the pot.
I added a couple bay leaves, and simmered the beans for another 90 minutes. In retrospect, I would try them and see if they are cooked in an hour. I think they were over cooked at a total of 90 minutes.

I chopped 2 fat vidalias I had in the fridge, and caramelized them, and added them to the pot. I peeled and chopped a pound and a half of carrots, fried then up and added them to the pot. I added Thyme, Garlic Powder and Oregano. Don't forget to pluck out those bay leaves - I read somewhere cooking bay leaves with beans are supposed to help if you get gas from beans.

I did end up frying up some of the kielbasa, and added it to the bottom of our soup bowls. I ladeled the soup over them, and drizzled olive oil over the soup (not as much as they did in the show though!). I have to say - I was very surprised at the flavor added to the dish by the olive oil drizzle. I used my veggie peeler to put some curls of parmesean on top, thinking it would make it salty enough, but Rick did add more salt. While making the soup, I used my grill pan to make toast with the crusty bread.

I served this fabulous dish with a recommended chianti classico from Mister Wrights Wines next door. I'll admit, I paid more than I usually do for wine, but wow - really tasty :)