The Black Eyed Peas may have a feeling, but I have a craving. A big one. HUGE! Leaves me wondering if this is what it’s like to have a pregnancy craving, an incessant desire that gone unanswered grows in compounded fashion, dominating your thoughts until obliged to its satisfaction. I need some cannellini beans….mingled with aromatics and puréed into a smooth earthy goodness. Laced with garlic and rosemary… I envision a finishing swirl of olive oil dripping over toasted rosemary breadcrumbs ………
Unfortunately this craving hit like a freight train while I was sitting in a hotel room far from my kitchen, a fact that probably only served to make me want it more. You know the old saying, “you want what you can’t have”. Luckily the trip was short one (narrowly saving my husband from hearing about this for the one millionth time) and upon our return I made dash to the grocery for necessary provisions.
My initial attraction, years ago, to this soup was rooted in health. Beans, garlic, olive oil…all high on the “good for you list”. It’s funny, this elixir hasn’t changed, but over the years my attraction has. I crave it not for its wholesomeness, although I do appreciate it, but for its pronounced flavor and rustic charm. It conjures visions of candlelit country kitchens with marred farmhouse tables that I find quite romantic…..and am starting to crave.
Adapted from Ina Garten’s Rosemary White Bean Soup.
- 1 lb dried cannellini beans
- 4 cups yellow onions (about 2 large), medium chop
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 3 TBSP minced garlic (about 9 cloves)
- 8 cups homemade chicken broth (or 6 cups for a thicker consistency)
- 4 sprigs fresh rosemary, rolled in cheesecloth and tied with kitchen string
- 2 bay leaves
- 2-3 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp freshly ground pepper
- Pick through the dried beans and remove any little rocks or debris that may have gotten mixed in. Then give them a vigorous rinse in a colander to remove dust and dirt. Place beans in a small stock pot and cover with water by 2 inches. Soak overnight (minimum 12 hours).
- Drain and rinse the beans. Set aside.
- In a 6 quart stock pot heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté for about 10 minutes until soft and translucent. If the onions start to brown reduce the heat to medium-low.
- Stir in the garlic and cook for another minute until beautifully fragrant.
- Add the beans, broth, bay leaves and rosemary.
- Increase heat to high and cover. Once it comes to a boil reduce heat enough to maintain a simmer.
- Simmer for 60-70 minutes until the beans are tender.
- Discard the bay leaves and rosemary.
- Remove 2 cups of the soup and place in a small bowl.
- Off the heat, use an immersion blender to puree the soup to your preference.
- Return the pot to the heat, add the reserved 2 cups of soup, salt and pepper and gently reheat over a low flame.
- Garnish with Toasted Rosemary Breadcrumbs (recipe follows), freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano and a swirl of extra-virgin olive oil.
These are so versatile that you’ll find yourself sprinkling them on pasta, salads, eggs, roasted vegetables….
- 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
- 1 fresh rosemary sprig
- 1 ½ TBSP olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Turn the broiler to Hi.
- Pulse ¼ loaf of day old bread in a food processor until it’s reduced to medium to fine size breadcrumbs.
- Put 1 cup of the breadcrumbs in a bowl and use a fork to mix in 1 ½ TBSP olive oil until fully combined and all of the crumbs are coated.
- Finely mince the rosemary leaves and stir into the breadcrumbs.
- Spread the mixture in a thin layer on a baking sheet.
- Broil for 2 minutes. Watch them! They brown fast.
- Sprinkle with salt and enjoy.
- These are best the day you make them, but can be may a day ahead if necessary. Store at room temperature.