This bowl of cold-weather comfort revealed quite a secret.
This hearty Tuscan bean soup is a perfect combination of smooth, silky soup topped with crispy, crunchy croutons. It also fulfills our promise to put more plant-based meals together this year. And we’re not alone. Americans have been growing ever more keen on beans. Even before the pandemic with its stockpiles of pantry staples, bean consumption rose from 8 lbs. a person in 2014 to 11.7 lbs in 2017. In the Spring of 2020, The New York Times reported that sales of just one brand of beans rose 400 percent! But that’s not the only surprise we uncovered.
Many Italians reserve a meal or two every week for beans and Tuscany is famous for its beans.
There are at least five white beans grown in Tuscany. Soranini, Toscanello, Corona, and Schiaccioni each have their own shape and texture. But no Tuscan bean is more popular than Cannellini, the white kidney bean that’s the backbone of today’s recipe. Cannellini are so popular they’re simply referred to as Fagioli, which is Italian for the word Bean. So what’s the secret of Cannellini? Well, they’re not really Italian at all. They were originally cultivated in Argentina of all places. Italians are the largest ethnic origin in modern Argentines. Fully 62.5 percent of Argentines have Italian ancestry. These Italian emigrants actually introduced the Cannellini bean they grew in Argentina to their native country.
There are a whole lot of great reasons to make this soup.
Beans are one of the world’s most valuable foods. They contain a wealth of fiber which is known to prevent heart disease and colon cancer. They can reduce cholesterol levels and are believed to prevent diabetes. Beans contain more protein than any other vegetable. One-half cup of Cannellini beans has 6.2 grams of protein. That’s more than what’s found in one ounce of chicken, beef, or fish. One serving of Tuscan Bean Soup is just 432 calories and 12.7 grams of protein. So let’s make soup! Here is the recipe followed by some other bean recipes to make.
Tuscan Bean Soup
This hearty Tuscan bean soup is a perfect combination of smooth, silky soup topped with crispy, crunchy cheesy croutons.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- 1 carrot, diced
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 (15 ounce) cans white kidney beans (cannellini), rinsed and drained
- 4 cups chicken broth
- salt to taste
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- ½ teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
- ½ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
- ⅓ cup creme fraiche
- ½ lemon, juiced
- 1 ½ cups fresh bread cubes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, or to taste
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- Step 1 Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large pot. Add butter. Allow butter to melt. Add onion, celery, and carrot, and cook and stir until onion begins to turn translucent and golden for about 7 minutes. Stir in garlic. Cook 1 more minute. Add beans and broth. Season with salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme, and cayenne pepper. Set heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and let simmer until vegetables are tender about 30 minutes.
- Step 2 Place bread cubes in a saute pan. Drizzle with olive oil. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Toast bread cubes over medium heat until golden brown and crunchy, tossing occasionally, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle grated cheese over the bread cubes and continue to brown cubes for about 2 more minutes.
- Step 3 Puree soup with an immersion blender until it is very smooth. Whisk in creme fraiche. Stir in lemon juice. Serve topped with browned bread cubes and chopped parsley.