Saturday, April 14, 2012

Tuscan Bean Soup

Rev up your crock pot and clean up your kitchen beacuse I am about to unload a large bounty of crock pot recipes for you! My mom had purchased this slow cooker recipe book a while back and every time I went to her house it was sitting on the same spot on the coffee table. I perused it multiple times always thinking I should write a few of the recipes down and try them. But the idea of typing them out or writing them was offensive to my lazy side and I didn't do it. Then, I finally just took the dang book because she obvioulsy wasn't using it. I told her I'd give it back after I'd previewed some of the recipes for her. She didn't seem too upset.

I went through and marked about 30 recipes we could try. For almost 3 weeks we did nothing but crockpot cooking. I am a believer. I had used my crockpot exactly 3 times in the last 3 years...until last month. What a wonderful contraption! I will pass along our successes and spare you the failures. We have only come across one recipe so far we didn't like. It had good flavor but just wasn't working for us.

My personal favorite by far was this unsuspecting White Tuscan Bean Soup. I remember as a kid my mom would occasionally cook a huge vat of white beans and then we would be expected to eat it. I distinctly remember sitting there staring at my bowl and not taking a single bite. My brothers would douse the stuff with ketchup (the kid comfort condiment) and would eat a few bites. It was always a painful dinner night. Not this dish. Even my 2 year old ate it! Glorious day!

Here ya go...
2 Tbsp EVOO
6 oz pancetta, minced*
3 onions, chopped**
8 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes***
3 c low-sodium chicken broth
3 c water
1 lb dried great northern or cannellini beans, picked over, salt-soaked and rinsed
1 parmesan cheese rind (optional...I have not used one in my soups)
2 bay leaves
1 sprig of rosemary (I haven't done this either)
grated parmesan cheese

0. Soak beans overnight, rinse

1. Heat oil in skillet over med-hi heat add pancetta and cook until lightly brown and crisp. Stir in onions, garlic, red pepper flakes and cook until onions are softened and lightly brown. Stir in 1 c broth, scraping up any browned bits. Transfer all to the slow cooker.

2. Stir in remaining 2 c broth, water, soaked beans, parmesan rind, bay leaves into the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 9-11 hrs or high 5-7 hours.

3. Add rosemary, cover and cook on high until fragrant. Discard rosemary, bayleaves, and parmesan cheese rind. Season with salt/pepper. Add additional EVOO as needed

* I didn't have pancetta on hand and forgot to buy it so I used bacon just fine
**I used frozen chopped onion (approx 1 c per onion)
***I used only 1/2 the amt of red pepper called for for fear of being spicy and I think it was about use your own judgement. It does add a nice kick.

I have not used the parmesan cheese rind or rosemary any time I've made this and I don't feel like it's lacking anything. Add some good bread, maybe some green beans or salad and you have yourself a great meal! (And a clean kitchen!!!)

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