Tasty Tuscan White Bean Soup

March 5, 2013 § 5 Comments

It has been a long time since I have posted anything…too long.  We had an early March snowstorm and I just enjoyed a bowl of my latest creation–so I thought that I would share my recipe for Tuscan White Bean Soup. It’s vegan and gluten-free. 

Ingredients and supplies needed:

  1. Two pounds of dry, white beans.  I used cannelini (or white kidney beans) but this recipe would also work with northern or white navy beans. 
  2.   Mirepoix +: 1 pound of carrots, 1 large white/yellow onion, 6-8 celery stalks and about 10 cloves of garlic.
  3. One smallish bok choy bunch.
  4. One smallish bunch of kale.
  5. One quart of vegetable stock.
  6. Two 8 oz. cans of diced tomatoes (I prefer Muir Glen Organic Fire Roasted).
  7. Fresh herbs: can be rosemary, thyme, marjoram and/or oregano (I used rosemary and marjoram.)
  8. About 10 peppercorns.
  9. Balsamic Vinegar (about 2 T.)
  10. Kosher Salt (I prefer Morton’s).
  11.  Large soup pot.
  12. Cheese cloth or equivalent for bouquet garni or seasoning bundle. (optional).                                                                                                                                       
  • Sort through 2 pounds of dry, white beans to pick out any stones.  As my friend Eddie would say, “no matter how long you cook a stone, it will still be a stone.” 
  • Put beans in a large pot and cover with about 2 inches of water.
  • Add a sprig of rosemary (if available) and bring the water to a boil.
  • Turn the heat off and cover the pot.
  • Let it sit for 1 hour
    • This method allows you to make the soup in one day–you can also soak the beans overnight. If you do that, just use cold water. 
  • While your waiting for your beans, you can start chopping vegetables for your Mirepoix+.
    • Dice onion (medium dice).
    • Slice each celery stalk in half the long way and then slice arches of celery.
    • Chop carrots into coins, 1/2 coins or 1/4 coins, depending on size of carrot.
    • Roughly chop garlic. 

The result should look something like this:

Mirepoix +

  • You can also create your bouqet garni, if you decide to use one. Just put some sprigs of fresh herbs, the peppercorns and about a clove of garlic in some cheesecloth, or a tea ball like this:

Bouqet Garni

After about an hour (or a little more) has passed, you will be ready to start adding ingredients to build flavor. At this point, you should add the following to your pot:

  • 2 cans diced tomatoes
  • one quart of stock
  • About a quart of water
  • All mirepoix +
  • Bouqet Garni (optional).

Bring soup to a boil and reduce to a simmer.  Stir occasionally.

  • At this point you can slice the bok choy, green leaf and white stalk so that it looks like this:

Bok Choy

After 1 hour of cooking, add the bok choy.

  • Slice kale in a chiffonade by stacking up the leaves and cutting it into thin ribbons. After about another 45 minutes, add the kale:

Tuscan White Bean 005

Let that cook for another 45 minutes or so.  Taste the broth. Season generously with salt + pepper. Taste again.  Try a bean–make sure it’s soft all the way through.  Add a tablespoons of Balsamic Vinegar. Let that cook for about 5 minutes and taste it again.  Season to taste.

Tuscan White Bean Soup  Enjoy!


Tomato & Feta Couscous Salad

July 21, 2011 § 3 Comments

 For a perfect summer meal,  grill a porkchop and serve it with grilled pineapple and watermelon salsa, corn on the cob and summer couscous salad.  This salad can be made in advance, as it only gets better with age.  However, add the fresh herbs right before serving. 

  • Simply prepare couscous by adding 1.5 cups of boiling stock or water to 1 cup of couscous. 
  • Wait for 10 minutes or so and fluff it with a fork. 
  • Add to the couscous:
    • about one cup of quartered grape tomatoes (or diced regular size tomatoes)
    • about 1/2 cup of snap peas, sliced horizontally (can also use diced cucumber)
    • optional: small diced red onion
    • optional: chopped kalamata olives
    • about 1/2 cup of feta cheese, crumbled
    • olive oil (enough to moisten–about 1/8 cup+)
    • 1 T. balsamic vinegar
    • 1 T. red wine vinegar (or any vinegar that you choose)
  • Gently combine all ingredients. 
  • If eating shortly, add chopped fresh herbs of your choice (italian parsley and genovese basil are always good standbys). 
  • Taste. Adjust seasonings if appropriate (salt and pepper, olive oil).  Enjoy!

Grilled Pineapple and Watermelon Salsa

July 21, 2011 § 3 Comments

  There is nothing like grilled fruit to top off your favorite grilled protein.  We enjoyed ours with pork chops.  Grilling pineapple and watermelon transforms it from a refreshing snack to a savory, sophisiticated accompaniment for pork, fish or chicken.  It takes on a deeper more complex flavor then if you just used it raw. 



  • Prepare 1/4 pineapple by cutting off the peel and the inner core.  I usually cut off the top and the bottom, then stand the pineapple up and slice the peel off.  Then I quarter it length-wise and for this salsa, slice 1/2 inch pieces for the grill.
  • Prepare about 2 cups of firm watermelon (preferrably seedless) by cutting off the rind and cutting 1/2 inch by 3 inch slices. 
  • In a bowl, toss pineapple pieces, watermelon and a variety of peppers (sweet, hot and mild) with olive oil, salt and pepper. 
  • Grill all components until a nice grill mark appears. 
  • Let cool enough to handle.
  • Chop all ingredients, removing seeds and stems from the peppers.  Jalapeno and serrano peppers are spicy from the seeds, so remove as many seeds as possible.  You may reserve some of the seeds to add more heat after you mix all of the components.
  • Mix chopped ingredients with the juice from one lime, about 3 T. of olive oil and 1 T. of red wine vinegar. 
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Taste. Adjust. Enjoy!

Carrot Ginger Coconut Soup

May 28, 2011 § 2 Comments

  • Roast 15 roughly chopped carrots with olive oil, paprika, coriander and cumin at 375 for about 45 minutes.
  • Saute 1/2 diced onion in olive oil until translucent. Add 4 cloves of minced garlic until you can smell the garlic.
  • Add roasted carrots, one quart of chicken stock and one can of light coconut milk.
  • Simmer for 10 minutes or so, then puree soup with an immersion blender or in a blender/food processor.
  • Return to simmer. Grate or finely chop a 3 inch knob of ginger into the soup.
  • After the flavors have blended a bit, taste.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Enjoy!

Rosemary Tomato Bisque

November 21, 2010 § 1 Comment

Simple and bold, this soup warms and satisfies on a chilly fall day.

  • Peel 15 cloves of garlic and smother in olive oil in a small pot with a fitted lid.
  • Roast at 300 for about an hour, or until the garlic is soft and golden brown.
  • Put confit of garlic in a soup pot and add 2- 28 ounce cans of crushed tomatoes.  Rinse cans with a bit of water and add to pot.
  • Bring to a simmer.
  • Add salt, pepper, and 2 T. chopped fresh rosemary.
  • Slowly stir in about 1/2 cup of half and half.  Gently return to a simmer, stirring constantly.
  • Puree with an immersion blender, food processor or regular blender.
  • Taste.  Adjust seasoning.
  • Enjoy!

Roasted Pear Sorbet

November 19, 2010 § 5 Comments

This sorbet tastes just like a Pear Tart: creamy, carmelized, warm and festive.

  • Peel and chop 3 pears. 
  • Saute with 2 T. agave nectar, 2 T. brown sugar, 2 tsp. cinnamon and 1/4 squeezed lemon until pears are cooked. 
  • Puree mixture and push through a thin mesh strainer. 
  • Taste.  Adjust if necessary.  Cool for at least 8 hours.
  • Freeze according to ice cream maker’s suggestion. 
  • Enjoy!

Cream of Mushroom Soup

October 22, 2010 § 2 Comments

                     Simple, rich and earthy- this soup is the perfect antidote to a rainy fall day or a tastebud tantalizing way to start a meal.

  • Slice about 5 cups of mushrooms: crimini, domestic, chanterelle, or portabella, whichever type you prefer.  
  • Heat olive oil in a thick-bottomed pot and add mushroo0ms to saute them until golden–about 15 minutes or so.
  • Finely chop 5 cloves garlic and add to mushrooms. When you can smell the garlic, add 2 T. flour and stir frequently for about 3 minutes.
  • Add 2 cans chicken stock and scrape the bottom of the pan to remove the “fond” or brown bits (not burnt) from the bottom of the pan.  Bring to a boil and reduce for a minute or so.
  • Add 1 1/2 pints (3 cups) half & half and 1 c. cream (or just a quart of half & half).
  • Bring to a simmer and cook for about 45 minutes.  Puree in a blender or with an immersion blender. 
  • Season with salt, pepper and a touch of nutmeg. 
  • Taste.  Adjust. Serve with some good bread.
  • Gourmet step-up presentation: in a blender combine fresh herbs such as parsley, basil, thyme with a touch of olive oil and place a dollop or swirl of herbs on top of soup (in each bowl).  Also,  garnish with parmesan crisps– place a tablespoon of finely grated romano or parmesan on a non-stick baking pan and bake for 5-6 minutes at 300*. 
  • Enjoy!
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