Recipe video above. This is a white bean soup with a thick, creamy broth that's full of savoury flavour with a hint of tomato. It's a fast way to turn bland beans into a really filling soup that so simple to make, yet so, so good! The flavour trick - blitzing up the sautéed onion, carrot and garlic with just a bit of the beans. Keep it meat free or see notes for how to add ham, bacon, chicken or sausage! This is VERY filling - and keeps you full for ages (thank you beans!)
1 1/2tspItalian herb mix OR other dried herbs(oregano, thyme, parsley, basil, or mixed)
3/4 cup (170g)tomato paste (Note 1)
1/2 cup (125ml)dry white wine, optional (can omit)
4 cups (1 litre)stock/broth, chicken or veg, low sodium
3x 420g/15oz canscannellini or any white beans, drained & rinsed(navy, butter, great northern, lima) (OR 2 cups dried beans, 5.5 cups cooked, Note 2)
1/2 cup (50g)parmesan, grated
1/2tspEACH salt and pepper
120g/4ozbaby spinach(or 5 - 6 cups any other leafy greens OR 4 cups diced veg, Note 3)
3/4 cup (185ml)cream, heavy/thickened(optional) OR more butter!
Melt butter in a pot over medium high heat. Cook garlic, onion and carrot for 5 minutes until carrot is soft and sweet.
About 3 minutes in, add the Italian herbs and cook with the onion (makes the herb flavour "bloom").
Turn heat up to high, add tomato paste. Cook for 2 minutes to remove the “raw” flavour.
Add white wine, cook for 3 minutes until the harsh “winey” smell is gone and mostly evaporates so you’re just left with tomato paste again.
Add 1/2 cup of beans (to thicken soup), stock, parmesan, salt and pepper. Stir, low heat, cover and simmer 3 minutes, stirring every now and then.
Use a stick blender to puree until smooth (or transfer to blender).
Add remaining beans, simmer 3 minutes. Stir in spinach until wilted, then stir in cream if using. Add more salt and pepper if needed (note: canned beans are already salted).
Serve with crusty bread for dunking!
1. Tomato paste works best here to provide intensity of tomato flavour. Can be substituted with canned tomato. You will need 800g/14 oz crushed or diced canned tomato OR Tomato Passata , reduce the stock per recipe down to 3 cups (750ml). Skip the tomato paste, but still use wine if you can (great for flavour). Add tomato with stock, only add 1/4 cup of beans to thicken soup, then simmer for 10 minutes with LID OFF before pureeing. Then proceed with recipe2. Beans - any white beans will work great here. Navy beans, lima, butter beans. Other colour beans (kidney beans, pinto, black beans etc) will work just fine but the colour of the soup broth may be a bit different (from pureeing a bit into the soup)Recipe should also work great with any canned or cooked dried lentils (any colour) and dried split peas - again, just that the colour of the soup will be different!3. DRIED BEANS (navy, cannellini or other white beans) - you will need 2 cups of any dried white beans.
1 can = 1 3/4 cups beans once drained
Recipe calls for 3 cans = 5 1/4 cups beans
1 cup dried beans = 2 3/4 cups cooked
So you will need 2 cups dried beans (2 x 2.75 = 5 1/2 cups cooked beans)
HOW TO COOK DRIED BEANS - soak in plenty of water (beans will triple in volume) 5 - 24 hrs. Drain bring to boil then gently simmer in a large pot of water with 1 tbsp salt* partially covered with a lid. The cooking time will vary wildly depending not just on size/type of beans, but also the age of beans. Fresh dried cannellini beans, 24 hr soak can cook = 25 minutes. Old large lima beans could take over 2 hours.So start checking at 25 minutes, and the closer they are to being ready, check every few minutes because small beans can go from just under to overcooked within 5 minutes. They are ready when they're tender all the way through, if they are overcooked they can fall apart / disintegrate on the edges (also this can happen to lower quality beans).Pictured soup is made with cannellini beans. Soaked 12 hours overnight, simmered 30 minutes.FIRMNESS - canned beans are very soft. If you cook your dried beans so they are on the firm side, you might need to simmer the first 1/2 cup you put into the soup for longer than 3 minutes because you want them very soft (like canned beans) so they puree smoothly.* SALT - If using large dried beans, add partway through cooking. If using smaller beans (like cannellini) just add at the start (it won't make them tough or increase cook time).3. Extra vegetables: This recipe makes a good amount of thick creamy soup, so you can load it up with more vegetables. If using diced veg, cook first, then remove. Proceed with recipe then add the veg back in later.I find it easiest to just stir in veg that wilts easily OR add things like diced frozen carrot, corn and peas with the beans because they will cook in just a few minutes.4. PROTEIN options: Sear chopped bacon or ham, or cook sausage, then remove and proceed with recipe in same pot. Return meat into pot at end. You could also sear chicken, then chop or shred. Or poach fish in the broth, flake and stir in. Or stir in chunks of canned salmon or tuna.5. Storage - Up to 4 days in the fridge, or freeze, thaw then gently reheat.6. Nutrition per serving, this recipe makes 4 generous servings (it is filling!)