Winter is all about soups and stews for me. There is nothing like a kitchen filled with the smells of a simmering pot of goodness. Who cares about the gloomy day outside when you can serve a steaming hot bowl of soup or stew with a nice loaf of bread or biscuits.
Bean soups are high on my list of favorite soups. And since discovering the joys of cooking with a pressure cooker, using dried beans are snap. I know many people are purists and say that dried beans are the only way to go, but honestly I have never found canned beans to be lacking. They are quick and easy and I like the flavor just fine. So by all means, if you want to make life easier, use canned beans.
And to get us started, here is a nice bean soup. I’m not a big kale fan, so I only added 2 cups and added spinach as well. You can easily add as much kale as you like, the original recipe called for 2 whole heads.
Serves 6 easily. Serve with a nice garlic bread.
Tuscan Bean Soup
- 14 oz canned kidney beans, or 1/2 cup dried, soaked overnight*
- 14 oz canned cannellini beans, or 1/2 cup dried, soaked overnight*
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 pound diced pancetta, or bacon
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 3 celery stalks, diced
- 3 carrots, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
- Salt and pepper
- 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 4 cups chicken stock (low-sodium)
- 4 cups water
- 1 sprig rosemary (remove before serving)
- 1 tsp dried basil, or 1 tbsp chopped fresh
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme, crushed
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano, crushed
- 1 bay leaf (remove before serving)
- 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
- 2 cups kale, chopped
- 2 cups baby spinach, chopped
- Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated, for serving
Place the beans in a medium pot, add water to cover by 2-inches and bring to a boil. (If using canned kidney beans, skip this step.) Turn the heat down, let simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until just-tender.
In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta, rendering the fat and cooking until slightly crispy about 3 minutes. Sauté the onion, celery, carrot and garlic for 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Add the diced tomatoes, the cooked and drained beans and the chicken stock and water. Add spices, salt and pepper. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, then add the kale and spinach. Continue cooking until the beans are completely tender.
Pressure Cooker instructions:
*At this altitude, soaking does nothing, so I skip that step. I rinse them well and then I pressure cook the beans for 30 minutes before starting the soup. It can be done the night before and refrigerate the drained beans. They will be just tender, drain and add to soup as per directions above.