Saturday, January 19, 2013

Reset: Tuscan White Bean Soup with Leeks & Roasted Garlic

First off, I want to express my gratitude to all of you who left me a comment or sent an email regarding my last post.  Thank you thank you thank you.  Your words mean so much and I am frankly overwhelmed by everyone being so kind - especially those of you I've never even met.  I'm doing okay - much better than I was a couple of weeks ago, that's for sure.  The other day I even caught myself humming, against my musical judgement, that Bruno Mars song.  You know the one, so damn catchy I might have even danced a little.  While I may have lost the handsome man, I'm still surrounded by so many other good things right now, and if I don't remind myself of it, others do.  Every day is a chance to press reset.  While 2013 started off quite crappy bumpy, I relish the opportunity to make it better.  Like I wrote in my final post of 2012 ... you just never know what is going to happen to you.  Words to hold near and dear.

I've been busier in my kitchen, which is a good thing, because a girl cannot live on yogurt and poached eggs and toast forever.  I needed to break out of the funk and feed myself.  Soup is always good for a little soul soothing, so that's what I made.  I had some frozen chicken carcasses I turned into absolutely glorious stock and it really added so much depth of flavour to the soup.  I used dried white beans, and yes they require a little more tending to than the canned variety, but they are creamier and tastier and worth the extra minutes, in my opinion.  Plus I'm trying to reduce the amount of canned goods I consume - that BPA is bad news.  Simply soak the beans in plenty of fresh water overnight - and proceed with the recipe the next day.  That's all there is to it.   Just remember to keep them off the counter your fat orange cat jumps onto, otherwise he'll think it's his new water dish.  Ahem, Sunny, I am talking 'bout you.

Roasted garlic - it's your best best friend when you want to make anything delicious.  I used the local stuff, so much better for you than the stuffed trucked in from China.  Cut the tops off, drizzle with olive oil and wrap in foil.  Roast it for an hour or so, until it's all caramelized and creamy.  Sauté leeks, celery, carrots in butter, add the beans, a little white wine, your good stock, some rosemary just because I love it, and let it bubble away for an hour or so, until the beans are soft and the soup is thick.  Use an immersion blender to make it as creamy as you like.  If it's too thick, thin it out with more stock.  Easily made vegan by using veggie stock, or you can go the opposite way and add a little bacon.  Surprisingly, there was none in my house so I left it out, but I have no doubt it would be quite awesome in this hearty and healthy soup.

Cat on the counter.  Again.  Good thing he's cute.

Once you ladle up the soup, have fun with the garnishes.  Freshly made croutons are quite fabulous, as is the shaved Parmesan cheese.  The drizzle of extra virgin olive olive oil is a little luxury, but on these cold, dark days, it's worth it.  Tucked up in my little house, I ate two bowls and began again.  

Tuscan White Bean Soup with Leeks & Roasted Garlic 

2 cups dried navy beans.  If you are using canned white beans, you need about 5 cups, or two cans.
2 tbsp butter
2 leeks, cut in half, and washed thoroughly
3 stalks celery, diced
4 medium carrots, diced
2 heads of garlic, roasted
2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 cup dry white wine
salt and pepper to taste
6-7 cups chicken stock or veggie stock
fresh croutons
shaved Parmesan cheese
extra virgin olive oil

Rinse the dried beans thoroughly then place in a large bowl, cover with ample fresh water and soak overnight.  Drain and rinse again and set aside. 
In a large pot, melt butter, stir in leeks, celery, carrots and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes or so.  Stir in the rosemary, squeeze in the roasted garlic, the white wine, soaked beans, stock and salt and pepper.  Cover with a lid, bring to a boil, stir, reduce heat to medium and simmer away, covered, stirring occasionally, for about an hour.  Beans should be falling apart.  If it seems to thick, add more stock or water.  Use an immersion blender to purée some or most of it - your choice.  Adjust seasonings, ladle into bowls and garnish with croutons, Parmesan and a good drizzle of olive oil.  Makes about 6 servings. 


  1. This is one amazing recipe Renee to nourish the soul.

  2. Renee, I have been reading this blog since it's very early days... yet this is the first time I am making a comment as I tend not to comment online. However, after following the small glimpses of stories from your life and trying many of the recipes, I decided that this would be the post for me to comment on. I, like many others of your readers, have been privileged to share in a glimpse of your life and the lovely food involved. After your post at the beginning of January, I realized how precious reading your blog has become to me, and how I have become to care about the little stories you share. While I was reading your last post, I felt tears for you and called my mom (who also loves to read your blog) to share your difficult news. Reading this post, I feel refreshed and hopeful for you. I will be trying this comfort soup tomorrow, thank you. Enjoy the hidden beauties of a Saskatoon winter, tucked inside your house with the simple pleasure of healing soup (Saskatoon is my hometown, while Winnipeg is where I am currently). I think that a Saskatoon winter is a perfect metaphor for the latest transition in your life (it might look grey with ridges of frozen slush, but then more snow or frost comes leaving a clean slate). Good job on the reset! And how right you are, we never do know what is going to happen to us. Thanks for another great recipe.

  3. Bellini - indeed it is :)
    Michelleeee - Wow - I don't know what to say. Thank you so much for probably the nicest comment anyone has ever left me. I'm happy to know you've been hanging around my blog so long! It's comments like yours that make me love what I do here and I can't wait to see how it evolves. Thanks again, have an absolutely wonderful day :)

  4. Can't wait to try it. the only item I am missing is leek. if Wade calls I will get him to pick it up. I cooked beans a few weeks ago and froze them.
    So glad your heart is a little lighter!! Big hugs

  5. Just pinned this because it looks amazing! Trying it out soon!

  6. Jean, great idea on cooking and freezing beans - must try that.
    Natalie - thank you! Hope you enjoy the soup as much as I did.

  7. Groan. I need a bowl of this right now! Still feeling a bit under the weather & back in bed resting up. I wish someone would make me a nice, big, comforting bowl of soup like this one right away.

  8. Hooray! Glad to hear you're doing better. Soup is wonderfully comforting and yours looks fabulous! I hope each new day is better than the last and that your heart is mended entirely soon.

  9. For the food challenged among us it would be nice to have explanations of the beans. I googled navy bean and got haricot. So i bought white kidney beans. Turns out there is an actual navy bean.


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