Tomato and white bean soup is a favorite in the colder months when soups and stews become regular features at the dinner table. In this version, you sauté aromatic vegetables together in olive oil with just the right touch of chile pepper and smoked paprika before adding tomatoes, bone broth, and cannellini beans. Fifteen minutes later, the soup is done and ready for your bowl.
What's in it?
This tomato and white bean soup has a deliciously smoky edge thanks to the inclusion of smoked paprika, while crushed red chile gives it the tiniest inflection of heat. Loads of aromatic vegetables give a lift to the soup's flavor and add their own nutritional benefits, too. And while the soup has no cream, it does have a decidedly creamy edge thanks to the inclusion of cannellini beans - an Italian variety of white beans.
Tips for making the soup
Making this soup is pretty straightforward. You begin by sautéing aromatic vegetables such as fennel, celery, and onions, in olive oil until fragrant, and then you stir in the liquid ingredients (broth and tomatoes). When the vegetables are cooked through, you add the beans and allow them to warm up before puréeing everything together. But here are some simple tips to keep in mind when you make it.
- Let the vegetables sweat, not caramelize. That means, the vegetables should cook until fragrant and tender, but shouldn't fry in the oil or begin to darken.
- If you can't find fennel, you can add a half-teaspoon of ground fennel seed. Or, you can skip it entirely if you prefer.
- You can cook your own beans if you prefer to. Soak about 1 cup cannellini beans the night before in hot water with ¼ teaspoon baking soda and 1 tablespoon sea salt. Drain and then simmer in a pot until tender, or cook in the InstanPot for about 10 minutes.
- The recipe calls for whole peeled tomatoes, but you can use diced or crushed tomatoes in the same quantity if you prefer.
- Garnish the soup with fresh herbs, seeds, croutons, or even bacon right before serving. It helps make the soup a little more substantial and filling.
Add bacon. Instead of using 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, use 1 tablespoon plus 4 ounces chopped bacon. Allow the bacon to crisp in the olive oil and render its fat, and then cook the soup as you normally would and purée the crisp bacon in with the other ingredients.
Add chopped kale or Swiss chard. Instead of puréeing the soup, finish it by turning off the heat and dropping in a bunch of chopped kale or Swiss chard. Put the lid on the pot, and let the greens wilt in the soup's residual heat. Ladle into soup bowls and serve warm.
Add garlic confit instead of fresh garlic. Garlic confit has a deeper garlic flavor than fresh garlic, and it resonates well with both tomatoes and white beans in this soup.
Add rosemary and thyme at the beginning of cooking when you sauté the vegetables, and then lift them out of the pot with kitchen tongs right before you add the tomatoes and broth.