By the Care2 Staff.
Filled with flavor, this satisfying soup is a mainstay of Italian country cooking. Tender beans give it creaminess without fat, and olive oil, garlic, and leeks add healthy-promoting benefits as well as great taste. You can add some grated cheese on each serving, or make a vegan version and never miss the dairy.
Imagine a Tuscan farmhouse kitchen: You can smell a tang of wood smoke from the hearth where a pot of this savory soup bubbles over the fire. A bottle of hearty red wine is set on the sturdy table, a loaf of rustic whole-grain bread nearby. Pull up a chair. Breathe deeply. Autumn is a good time to enjoy the comforts of soup. The Mediterranean way of eating and living well never tasted better!
1 pound dried white navy beans
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 medium leeks, white and tender green parts, washed well and chopped
5 stalks celery, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
3 carrots, scrubbed and diced
5 cups good-quality vegetable broth
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped, or 1 teaspoon dried
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/3 cup grated Parmagiano-Reggiano or Asiago cheese (optional)
1. Soak beans in water overnight, then drain and rinse well.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a heavy-bottomed soup pot and add leeks. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until leeks begin to soften. Add celery, garlic, and carrots and cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes. Add stock, rinsed navy beans, herbs, salt, and pepper. Bring soup to a boil, then cover, reduce heat, and allow to simmer over low heat for 1 hour.
3. Puree 3 cups of soup in a blender (to make the beans creamy) and pour back into the pot. Add lemon juice, and more self and pepper if needed.
4. Ladle soup into individual bowls. Top each portion with some of the remaining olive oil and sprinkle with cheese, if desired.