The recipe for this white bean soup comes from the first book we read in our book club– “Bread And Wine” (by Shauna Niequist). The “Magical White Bean Soup” chapter really stood out to me because she talked about how important it is to meet people where they are at and be able to cook meals that everyone (including those with dietary restrictions) could partake in. The reason this soup is “magical” is because it is (first and foremost) delicious and unique, AND gluten free, dairy free, and vegetarian! That is not easy to find. It is a favorite in my family even though we don’t have any of the mentioned food restrictions, and it’s the perfect dish to serve when I have someone over for dinner that may not be able to eat meat, dairy, or gluten.
The fennel bulb, shallot, and rosemary give this white bean soup a distinctly fresh Italian flavor that definitely takes this soup out of the “bland” category. It is served with a homemade balsamic vinaigrette, fresh shaved parmesan, and ribbons of prosciutto (an Italian dry-cured ham) on the side so that everyone can customize to their dietary needs or preferences. I personally love to add a generous amount of all the toppings… The vinaigrette brings a zesty acidity to the soup, parmesan adds to the creaminess and saltiness, and the prosciutto is the savory, rich flavor that completes this dish for me.
Looking for another great vegetarian soup recipe? Try my summer roasted veggie soup!
Ingredients For Magical White Bean Soup
For The Soup:
2 shallots, sliced
1/2 pound carrots, thinly sliced
1 bulb fennel, sliced
4 celery ribs, sliced
2 tablespoons rosemary, rough chopped
6 cans white beans in liquid (cannellini or great northern beans)
salt and pepper to taste
For The Vinaigrette:
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
Prosciutto, torn into ribbons
Parmesan, curled into strips with a vegetable peeler
Directions For Magical White Bean Soup
For The Soup:
In a stockpot or dutch oven, soften two sliced shallots in olive oil over medium heat. Use a full-bodied extra virgin olive oil to enhance the flavors in this soup.
Add carrots, fennel, and celery, and allow to soften, 10 to 15 minutes.
Add the white beans in their liquid and chopped rosemary.
Cover and cook for twenty minutes at a gentle boil.
Taste, add salt and pepper, taste again– keep in mind that you’ll get a good amount of salt from the toppings.
Cook for an additional 20 minutes, or longer if you have time. This will bring all the flavors together.
Turn off the heat and mash with a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon for a rustic, chunky texture. If you prefer a smoother texture, like I do, run it through the food processor or blender. If you don’t have a food processor or immersion blender, just use your regular blender to blend the soup in batches. This is what I did!
For The Vinaigrette:
Spoon Dijon into a mason jar (or an old jelly jar), then add vinegar and salt and pepper.
Close lid and shake vigorously.
When all ingredients are combined, add in the olive oil and shake again. If you don’t use up all of the vinaigrette, it keeps well in the refrigerator and is delicious as a salad dressing!
Drizzle vinaigrette and top with parmesan (for the dairy eaters) and prosciutto (for the meat eaters).
This magical white bean soup is a great comfort food but can also be part of a fancy meal. As with any soup, I love to serve it with warm crusty bread to complete the meal. If you haven’t cooked with some of these ingredients before (like the fennel bulb) I urge you to try it out and see what new flavors you can discover and come to love!