Monday, November 23, 2009

Cannellini Bean Soup with Roasted Garlic and Rosemary

It's been a cool and rainy two days here in not sunny Atlanta and it just makes you want soup.
With national eating day coming in a couple of days its also good to lighten up a bit before the
gorging. Here is a recipe for a Cannellini Bean Soup with Roasted Garlic and Rosemary that is
hearty and full of flavor and just the answer for a cold fall day. It will also satisfy any
cravings you may have for Italian food. As a free bonus I am going to throw in homemade garlic
croutons which this soup just screams for.

First you need to roast two whole heads of garlic. One for the croutons and one for the soup.

Preheat your oven to 400°. Slice the tops off the garlic (the top is the pointy end) to expose
the cloves. Not too much but enough to expose the actual garlic in each clove. Drizzle each cut
head with a bit of olive oil and wrap them loosely in aluminum foil. I just fold up the edges of
the foil and make a little tent by squishing it together. Roast in the middle of the oven for 25
-35 minutes. Remove from the oven and open the foil and let the garlic cool for about ten minutes or until you can handle it. Like you would a toothpaste tube squeeze the roasted cloves from the heads into a small bowl and mash with a fork and set aside.

While the garlic is roasting you can cut up the bread for the croutons, and the onion, carrots
and celery for the soup. You can drain, rinse and drain the beans while you are at it.
For the croutons you'll need:

Half of the roasted garlic
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
about 5 cups of good bread cut into 1-inch cubes. I like sourdough but a baguette or
ciabatta works great as well. You should need about a half a loaf of bread and this is a
great way to use up stale bread.

Once the garlic is cool enough to handle and you've squeezed and mashed it, mix half of it(the
other half is for the soup) with the 1/4 cup of oil and salt and pepper. In a large bowl toss the
oil and garlic mixture with the bread cubes until well coated and spread evenly on a baking sheet
and bake about 20 minutes. You should turn them once or twice during the cooking and they should come out golden brown. No nibbling!

While the croutons are toasting lets start the soup:

the other half of the roasted garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups of finely chopped onion (1 large onion)
2 carrots , peeled and cut into about 1/4-inch slices
2 stalks celery chopped into 1/4 inch dice
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 cans (14.5 ounces each) cannellini beans(if you can't find cannellini then white kidney or
even light red kidneys or garbanzos will work). You need to drain them, rinse them and drain
them again before they go into the soup.
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary (If you only have dried rosemary then cut this
back to 1 tablespoon) and this soup is also good with fresh sage instead of rosemary.

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the
onion, carrots and celery and saute until tender, maybe 10 minutes. Add broth and garlic and
bring to a simmer. We are basically cooking the carrots and celery and letting the garlic infuse
the broth which should take about 20 minutes. Now add the drained beans and rosemary and bring back to a simmer cook 10 more minutes. Now depending on how you like your soup we are at decision time. You can serve the soup like it is with the croutons or go the traditional route and puree half the soup with an immersion blender or a food processor and recombine with un-pureed part and serve with the croutons. It really is best when you take the effort and cream up half the makes the soup much more luxurious. It is always a nice touch to drizzle a little more olive oil on top of the soup when served.


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