This week had quickly progressed without me noticing it, when I found myself trying to figure out a meal to feed some ladies coming over the next day for lunch. I found a bag of cannellini beans (one of my favorite beans) in the pantry and then found a recipe for them in Lidia’s Family Table Cookbook, by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich. I love this Italian cookbook because not only are all of the recipes very good, but they are often so simple! Her recipe for Garlicky White Beans and Broth is amazingly simple and so good!
Believe me, I was sorely tempted to add in more ingredients while I was cooking this, but with GREAT self control, I tried it just like her recipe called for. My friends and I were amazed at how much flavor it had for so few ingredients! They thought for sure that it had a ham hock, or chicken broth in it because it had such a nice flavor. You can eat it just like it is (like we did) or use it as a base for adding in veggies, pasta, chicken.
This is what she has to say about it.
“This is as simple as soup-making can be. It is nothing more than a pot of beans with cooking broth. But it has everything you need in a soup base:good body and texture and a mellow, sturdy flavor foundation. A bit of excitement gets blended in at the end with a soffritto of garlic lightly caramelized in olive oil. The result is not an ordinary pot of beans, but one in which you can simmer any vegetable or pasta and end up with a great soup. “
Garlicky White Beans and Broth
For cooking the beans:
1 pound (about 2 1/2 cups) dry cannellini or other small dried white beans, soaked overnight.
4 quarts cold water, plus more if needed
3 bay leaves
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more if needed
For the Garlicky Soffritoo
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6 big garlic cloves, sliced
1/4 to 1/2 teasppon dried peperoncino (hot red pepper flakes)
Cooking the Beans:
Drain and rinse the beans and pum them in a pot with the water, bay leaves, and olive oil. Cover the pot and bring it to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. When the water is at a full bol, set the cover ajar, adjust the heat to maintain a steady gentle boiling, and coof for an hour more, until the beans are tender.
Stir in the salt, uncover, and continue cooking at a bubbling boil for another hour or more, until the beans and broth have reduced to 3 quarts. Lower the heat as the liquid evaporates, and the soup base thickens, stirring now and then to prevent scorching.
Flavoring the Base with the Soffritto:
When the soup base if sufficiently reduced, make the soffritto. Heat the olive oil and the sliced garlic in the skillet over medium heat for 2 minutes or so, shaking the pan now and then, until the slices are sizzling. Drop in the peperoncino, stir with the garlic and cook another minute, or until the garlic is just starting to color.
From the soup pot, ladle out a cup of the simmering bean broth and pour it into the skillet. Let it sizzle and start to boil, shake and stir up the soffritto, and cook it for a couple of minutes in teh broth. Then pour it all back into the bean pot, scraping in every bit of the soffritto, or just rinse the skillet out with more broth. Simmer the soup base for another 5 mintues with the soffritto, then remover from the heat.
The base is ready for a finished soup now; or let the whole pot cool, pick out and discard teh bay leaves, and keep the soup refrigerated for 3-4 days or freeze, n filled and tightly sealed containers for 4-to 6 months.