Ok, winter is officially here. I looked at the thermometer this morning to see -10 degrees…..Brrrrr! But the sun is shining and its a great day to stoke the wood stove and make a pot of Cannellini Bean Soup. Here at Brickyard Farms, we grow an assortment of dried beans. The flavor is so much better than with canned, and they can be ready in short order with the use of a pressure cooker. Cannellini beans, also known as white kidney beans, are among my favorite dried beans with their creamy texture and rich flavor. They marry easily with many ingredients and compliment recipes for dips, sides, stews and soups.
There are many approaches to bean soups. I use a basic bean soup recipe that can be steered into many directions. That way you can add meat or not, use chicken or vegetable stock, enrich it with herbs, spices or roasted garlic. Today, I’m making a more traditional soup, using roasted chicken stock ( from my Basics with Twist cookbook), ham and for depth: roasted garlic. While I’m making soup, Val is baking Struan bread. The smells in our kitchen are wonderful.
First, pressure cook 2 1/2 cups dried cannellini beans that have been picked over and soaked over night. For even cooking, be sure the beans are covered with water or stock. In this case I use water and add 1 Tbsp of olive oil per cup of beans (this prevents the beans from foaming as they cook), so in this case I am adding 2 1/2 Tbsp of oil. I use the bean cooking chart in Lorna Sass’: Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure, which calls for pressure cooking these beans for 5-8 minutes and letting the pressure come down naturally, which cooks them an additional 4 minutes.
Next, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a glass pie-plate or double layer of aluminum foil (shiny side in) place 4 bulbs of garlic with the tops of each clove trimmed 1/8th of an inch. Drizzle 3 Tbsp of water and 2 Tbsp of olive oil over bulbs. Add a sprig of fresh thyme and cover pie-plate with foil or bundle double layer of foil to seal. Bake for 40 minutes. Let cool and remove pulp from each clove. Put in mini-food processor with 1 tsp kosher salt and pulse into a paste. Set aside.
- 2 cups onion, finely chopped
- 1 1/2 cups carrot, peeled and diced
- 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 2 1/2 cups pressure cooked beans, drained (alternatively 2 cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained)
- 6-8 cups homemade chicken stock or chicken broth
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
- 2 smoked ham shanks (approximately 4-6 oz)
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- In a large heavy Dutch oven, over medium heat saute onion, carrots and garlic in 2 Tbsp olive oil. Cook until onions are translucent and carrots are soft about 10-15 minutes.
- Add the broth, cooked beans, bay leaves, salt, rosemary and ham shanks. Simmer partially covered, on medium-low for 30 minutes.
- Remove ham shanks to chopping board. Trim fat and chop ham pieces into 1/2 inch dice. Return to soup.
- Add reserved roasted garlic paste, stirring to incorporate into broth. Reheat and adjust salt.
Ladle into bowls and top with fresh chopped parsley. Serves 6-8
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.