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September 25, 2009

Cannellini Bean Soup with Pan-Fried Croutons

I created this soup after I had a similar one in a restaurant in my neighborhood. I couldn’t stop thinking about it, so I deconstructed it and recreated it in my own kitchen. It’s very simple and fresh, but bursting with flavor. Crispy fried croutons pair perfectly with soft beans and tender kale, while little grape tomatoes give bursts of sweetness. This is definitely one of my all-time favorite soups, and you can prepare the croutons for any recipe you like.

Cannellini Bean Soup with Pan-Fried Croutons
Lauren Ulm, Vegan Yum Yum

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 to 3 shallots, peeled and sliced
4 cups vegetable broth
2 to 3 kale leaves, torn
½ to 1 teaspoon salt
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
16 grape tomatoes, halved
Fresh lemon juice, for seasoning

Pan-Fried Croutons:
2 Tablespoons Earth Balance
3 slices whole wheat bread, sliced into ½” cubes

Melt the Earth Balance in a skillet and add the bread cubes. Let the bread cook, absorbing the margarine, until golden brown.  Toss and brown all sides of the bread and then remove it from the pan when it’s rich brown and crispy. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot. Add the shallots and sauté until tender and lightly colored. Pour in the vegetable stock and heat until simmering. Add the kale and salt and cook, covered, until the kale is tender but still dark green. When ready to serve, turn off the heat and add the tomatoes. Let them sit in the hot soup for 1 to 3 minutes to cook slightly before serving. Check the seasoning and adjust, if desired. Add the pan-fried croutons at the last moment, with a small squeeze of lemon juice, if desired.

Serves 2.

MF&L Staff at Maine Food & Lifestyle magazine.

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