One of my favorite things about winter is that it’s soup season. I’m not talking about soups of the salty canned variety. I’m talking about slow-simmering homemade soup, the kind that fills your house with the fragrance of comfort.
As a mostly vegan vegetarian, beans are my staple protein. I love legumes of all types: black, white, pinto, Anasazi, lentils, aduki, split peas—you name it. Of the white variety, cannellini beans are my favorite. They blend well with so many different types of flavors. One of my favorite pairings is white beans and rosemary.
As it happens, my backyard rosemary plant is still doing well. So this weekend, I trimmed it back to make this hearty, slow-cooked soup. It comes from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.
White Bean Soup with Rosemary Oil
This recipe makes a ton of soup, so be sure to use your biggest soup pot. I used a 6-quart pot and left out one cup of the suggested water in order to make it fit. You may want to freeze a portion of it to enjoy later.
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced
- 2 cups dried cannellini or navy beans, or a combination of the two
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 carrots, cut in small dice
- 1 celery rib, diced small
- 5 garlic cloves, sliced
- ⅓ cup parsley, chopped
- 1 cup fresh or canned tomatoes with their juices
- 12 cups of water, or however much water will fit in your soup pot
- 2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
- ½ freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
- 2 cups dried pasta shells or some other preferred shape, you can also use gluten-free pasta
- Cover the dried beans with boiling water and set aside while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
- Warm the olive oil, rosemary and sliced garlic cloves until the garlic begins to color, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside until needed.
- Warm the olive oil and chopped rosemary in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots and celery. Cook for about 10 minutes, until the onion is softened.
- Add the garlic and parsley and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
- Drain and rinse the beans and add them to the pot.
- Add the tomatoes and water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, covered for an hour, until the beans begin to soften.
- Add the salt and continue cooking, covered, until the beans are completely tender, about 30 minutes.
- Partially purée about half the soup, either by using a hand blender and blending right in the pot, or by blending about half the soup in a counter top blender. Then return the pureéd soup to the pot.
- Strain the rosemary oil.
- To serve, add a handful of pasta to each bowl, add the soup, then drizzle some of the rosemary oil into each bowl.
- When you enjoy the leftovers, make just enough pasta for the number of servings you’ll be consuming. Pasta tends to disintegrate if it’s left in the soup pot, so it’s best to cook your pasta fresh each time you serve the soup.