Friday, November 13, 2009

Quick and Dirty

As the weather turns cooler, I look forward to making soups. There is something so homey about the scent of a simmering pot of veggies and meat wafting through the house. It's high on the comfort food list in my book. As Auguste Escoffier, chef and one of the most important leaders in the development of modern French cuisine, said, "Soup puts the heart at ease, calms down the violence of hunger, eliminates the tension of the day, and awakens and refines the appetite." 

The one real drawback that often accompanies soups is how long it takes to make. Admittedly, it's often totally low maintenance. You usually just put some stuff in a big pot, bring it to a simmer and cook for three hours while you go about your business. You don't even have to be home for goodness sakes. But with that type of time commitment, making soup is often reserved for the weekend. 

I was paging through an issue of House Beautiful when a white bean soup recipe caught my eye because (A) I'm a little obsessed with white beans, and (B) it only takes 45 care-free minutes to make the soup. Bingo! We have a weeknight winner! Yes, it's also super healthy and a protein-rich vegetarian soup, but more importantly, it's delicious. You'll never miss the meat — and you certainly won't miss having to wait three hours before you eat it. But you're home will still smell delicious. 

Jewel's Favorite Soup

3 15-oz cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
6 cups chicken stock, vegetable stock or water
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped 
2 ribs celery, chopped
4 ripe tomatoes, cut into small pieces
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Place beans, stock and garlic in a large pot on the stove. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and continue cooking for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the skillet is warm, add the olive oil and saute the onion and celery for 5 minutes or until soft and translucent. Next, add the tomatoes and salt and continue to cook another 3 to 4 minutes. 
Add the vegetable mixture and parsley to beans. Cook another 15 minutes to meld the flavors together. Serve with Parmesan cheese grated over each bowl. Yields: 6-8 servings. 

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