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Italian Bean Soup

Jan 2019

Seems like January brings us to that unusually challenging combination of eating requirements that leaves us feeling like our hands are tied – either in the kitchen or at the dinner table.

This chilly gray winter weather causes me to crave hearty comfort food but my New Year’s resolutions re-direct my focus to lighter options — all the while, I really don’t want to be cooking at all. It’s a tough month for cooking, can you relate?

  • pinot grigio
  • chicken stock
  • dried beans (I used large white beans)
  • carrots
  • celery
  • onion
  • green onion
  • Italian parsley
  • ripe tomatoes
  • fresh, chopped kale
  • sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil
  • pickled sweet garlic (or fresh)
  • dijon-style mustard
  • crushed red pepper
  • sea salt
  • black pepper
  • soy sauce / tamari

I know that may look like a long list but really if you break it down into refrigerator – dry goods – fresh produce – herbs & spices, it’s just a couple of items per category.

To make this soup, take these pantry staples and place them in a large dutch oven, stir, cover with the lid and place in the oven for 4-6 hours at 325°.

To ensure even cooking of the dried beans, I’ve found a trick with parchment paper to work every time. Cut a circle of parchment paper to snuggly fit in the pot and place atop the beans and liquid before cooking. This keeps the beans submerged in the cooking liquid and guarantees tender, cooked through beans.

This slow-cooking method draws out and intensifies all the flavors locked into these pantry staples and creates a rich flavorful soup without adding additional fat and calories to boost flavor.

Once the beans are cooked through, taste and add additional salt and pepper (if desired) and a few handfuls of chopped kale leaves. Cover for 10-15 minutes to steam the kale. Stir and serve.

To add a little extra heartiness, garnish with some parmesan cheese shavings and crumbles of sweet Italian sausage.

Simple, hands-free cooking, comfort food flavors and healthy as well?? It’s the perfect meal!

Italian Bean Soup

  • 1/2 liter pinot grigio
  • 1/2 liter chicken stock
  • 2 liter water
  • 1 lb dried beans (I used large white beans), rinsed
  • 3 c carrots, rough chopped
  • 2 c celery, rough chopped
  • 1 c white onion, rough chopped
  • 1 small bunch green onion, chopped (about 3/4 c)
  • 1/2 c Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1 1/2 c ripe tomatoes. diced
  • 1/4 – 1/2 c sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil
  • 3-4 medium pickled sweet garlic (or fresh)
  • 1 1/2 T dijon-style mustard
  • 1/4 t crushed red pepper
  • 1 t sea salt (plus more to taste)
  • 1 t black pepper
  • 1 1/2 T soy sauce / tamari
  • 3 c fresh, chopped kale
  • 1 lb cooked, crisp sweet Italian sausage (for garnish, optional)
  • 2 oz shaved parmesan cheese (for garnish, optional)

In a large, 7-9 qt. dutch oven, combine all ingredients, except kale and optional garnishes. Stir and cover with a circular cutout of parchment paper to insure even cooking (as pictured above).

Place lid atop the pot and place in a preheated, 325° oven for 4 to 6 hours*, until beans are tender.

Once beans are cooked through, remove the dutch oven from the oven, peel back the parchment paper liner, taste and add additional salt and pepper as needed. Add chopped fresh kale. Replace the parchment paper and the lid. Allow the kale to steam for 10-15 min.

Serve by topping with cooked, crisp sweet Italian sausage and parmesan cheese (optional).

Serves 12

*Cooking time depends on the size of the bean. The larger the bean, the longer the cooking time