Food You Can Eat: Marcella Hazan’s White Bean Soup with Garlic and Parsley

Definitely worth more than just a can of beans

So beautiful, isn't it? Like a Vermeer still life. This is a photo credited to Bobbi Lin and appears on the Food52 website.

The very first cookbook I started cooking out of regularly was one of Marcella Hazan’s, and I give her full credit for my successful effort to reel Better Half in and convert him from indifferent roommate to long-suffering life partner. Well, her cookbook and a couple of other things.

This is a simple and satisfying winter meal. I find that white beans are like scallops and macadamia nuts: it takes surprisingly few to fill you up. The recipe says this feeds 4 to 6; more like 4 I think. I’ve halved this recipe before and it makes enough for 2, if you also have other nibblies to complement. But here’s the 4 to 6 version.

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
6 cups cooked cannellini or other white beans—either canned or cooked from 2 cups dried (recommended)
Salt
Black pepper, ground fresh from the mill
1 cup homemade broth or water (or 1/3 cup canned beef stock diluted with 2/3 cup water)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Thick grilled or toasted slices of crusty bread

Put the oil and chopped garlic in a soup pot and turn on the heat to medium. Cook the garlic, stirring it, until is becomes colored a very pale gold. 

Add the drained cooked or canned beans, a pinch of salt, and a few grindings of pepper. Cover and simmer gently for 5 to 6 minutes. 

Take about 1/2 cup of beans from the pot and puree them through a food mill (processor) and return to the pot, together with all the broth. Alternately, use a blender, loosening with a bit of the broth. Simmer for another 5 to 6 minutes, taste, and correct for salt and pepper. Swirl in the chopped parsley, and turn off the heat. 

Ladle over the grilled bread slices into individual soup bowls.

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