With the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season and with all the cooking I do for clients throughout the year, it’s nice to enjoy a simple, uncomplicated meal. This silky Tuscan-inspired white bean soup with lacy Parmesan crisps makes simplicity special.
There’s very little chopping involved and the recipe is forgiving. If you don’t have a large shallot handy, as is called for in this recipe, a small yellow or red onion will work fine, too.
Sage with cannellini beans (also called white kidney beans) is a classic combination. I like to use fresh sage; however, dried will also work.
So you only have one small can of chicken or vegetable broth on hand, which is about 2 cups instead of the 3 cups called for? No biggie; you’ll just have a thicker soup or add a little water.
The Parmesan-Peppercorn Crisps can be prepared while the soup is simmering. Because these cheesy delights involve only two ingredients, use the best cheese you can afford and freshly grind the pepper.
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, with its unique nutty flavor and crumbly texture, is only produced in Italy. Any other cheese that is similar in taste and texture but produced elsewhere is Parmesan cheese. Use the one your budget allows for. However, no matter which one you use, grate it fresh for the best flavor.
For best results, bake the crisps on parchment paper, nonstick aluminum foil or a silicone baking sheet liner.
Finally, one tool that I consider indispensable in the kitchen is an immersion blender. If you don’t already own one, you may want to put it on your Christmas wish list. Instead of transferring hot liquids to a food processor or blender to purée, you can purée right in the pot.
Serve this soup with crusty bread or salad with balsamic vinaigrette. The cheese crisps are a great solution when a quick holiday appetizer is needed and are a nice accompaniment to a glass of white wine or Prosecco.
Tuscan White Bean Soup with Parmesan – Peppercorn Crisps
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large shallot, coarsely chopped (about ½ cup)
4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
4 large fresh sage leaves, torn into pieces, plus more for garnish
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 cans (15-ounce) cannellini beans (drained and rinsed)
¼ cup heavy cream
— Salt and black pepper, to taste
½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and cook 3 to 4 minutes or until it begins to soften, being careful not to brown. Add the garlic and sage and cook 30 seconds.
Add the broth and beans. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until the onion and garlic are tender.
Meanwhile, combine the freshly grated cheese with freshly cracked black pepper to taste. Line a baking sheet with nonstick aluminum foil, parchment paper or silicone baking sheet liner. Divide the cheese into four even portions (about 1/8 cup each) about 2 inches apart on the lined baking sheet and flatten slightly. (They will flatten and spread out as they bake.) Bake for 4 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven and let cool on the baking sheet.
Add the cream to the soup and purée until smooth in a food processor, blender or in the pot with an immersion blender. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Garnish each bowl with a small sage leaf and serve the crisps with the soup.