Tuscan White Bean Soup with Sourdough Croutons
- 1 sweet yellow onion such as Vidalia or Walla Walla, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic minced, about 2 tsp.
- 29 – 30 oz. cannellini or white kidney beans drained and rinsed
- 2 cups reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 loaf sourdough bread (use wheat/gluten-free if needed) (use 2 large slices for the croutons, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, and serve the rest of the bread on the side)
- 1/4 tsp. kosher salt sea salt, or other coarse salt
- 2 Tbsp. sherry or 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- 10 fresh basil leaves finely chopped, or use 1/2 tsp. dried
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese for serving (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. In a large stockpot, heat 2 Tbsp. oil over medium-high heat.
- Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are tender, about 5 minutes (if you are using dried basil rather than fresh, add it now, too).
- Add the beans and broth. Bring the soup to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer it for 3 – 5 minutes until you are ready to puree it.
- Meanwhile, make the croutons. In a medium bowl, toss the bread cubes with 1 – 2 Tbsp. oil and the salt. Place the cubes on a baking sheet in a single layer, and bake them for 3 – 5 minutes, until they are lightly browned and slightly crisp. Watch them carefully so they don’t burn.
- While the soup is simmering, puree it with a hand (immersion) blender, if you have one. If not, remove it in batches and puree it in a standing blender, and return it to the pot. Simmer the soup for about 5 more minutes.
- Stir in the sherry or vinegar and ladle the soup into bowls and top it with the basil, croutons, and Parmesan cheese (optional). Alternatively, refrigerate the soup and store the croutons in a sealed bag for up to 2 days.
Slow Cooker Directions:
- Place the onions and garlic in the slow cooker (if you are using dried basil rather than fresh, add it now, too). Add the beans (use 2/3 lb. of dried beans instead of canned if you prefer) and enough broth to cover the beans.
- Cook on low for 4 – 8 hours. For a thicker soup, stir prior to serving or puree it for a thinner soup. Stir the sherry or vinegar into the soup a few minutes before serving. Make the croutons as directed and top the soup with the basil, croutons, and cheese (optional). (Slow cooker cooking times may vary—Get to know your slow cooker and, if necessary, adjust cooking times accordingly.)