Sunday, July 15, 2012

Pesto and Cannelini Bean Soup

It's July and in the 90's on a daily basis, and for some reason, you've given up eating soup for the season. I'll bet you're the same person who still wears all black to a funeral and refuses to wear white after labor day. Am I right? I say it's time to break all the nonsense rules you've been foolishly living by, starting with the no-soup-in-the-summer one and whip up a quick batch of this soup. It's simple, delicious, and although it contains olive oil (dreaded fat!), it's of the monounsaturated variety and actually has health benefits when consumed in moderation.

Eww... the dreaded M-word. Let's talk about that for a second. Chocolate (chip cookies, brownies, cupcakes, frosting...), nuts, peanut butter... when it comes to thighs, apparently, there is a lot of truth in the phrase, "too much of a good thing".

The method for this recipe is not very detailed, but I expect that most of you have made soup before. It's kind of a "combine and eat" recipe, although I will warn you, don't add the beans until later, as indicated. When cooked beans boil, they break apart and lose their texture.

5 cloves garlic
2 cans cannellini beans (I adore these versatile little suckers and always have a stock of them in the cabinets)
1 cup water
3 tbsp pesto (there IS a difference between good pesto and cheap pesto, but for this, Classico is just fine)
3 cups chicken or veggie stock (or you can be wicked cheap like me and use... gasp... bouillon cubes!)
1 cup chopped celery
1 red pepper, chopped
Grated Parmesan cheese (a crucial part of this recipe)

1. Combine water, stock, celery, red pepper, garlic, and pesto and bring to a boil.

2. Drain and rinse the cannelini beans. The best way to do this is to suck it up and dirty your colander.

3. When the celery has begun to soften a bit (you don't want this mushy, but you also don't want it to have a snap to it), turn the heat down to medium and add the beans. Allow to cook for a few more minutes.

4. Ladle into bowls and let cool for a few minutes. Sprinkle a tablespoon of Parmesan cheese in each bowl. If you don't allow the soup to cool for a bit, the cheese (even grated) will melt and end up as a hardened mass on the tip of your spoon... and you won't be able to taste it.

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