This recipe takes all of my favorite Mediterranean flavors and packs them into one pot. This creamy soup is satisfying any time of the year and absolutely perfect served with crusty bread and a fresh salad. Check out my notes below for some time and energy saving tips.
It took me a few tries to get this soup to taste just how I wanted it, but it's finally right! It's packed with beans, vegetables, and sausage and has a creamy texture without any cream added! In the version you see above, I used chopped baby kale as the green, but I've had equal success using swiss chard and regular kale. Spinach would be great too, but may not hold up as well after being heated, so take that in to consideration when deciding what to use.
Some notes about ingredients
When making this recipe, the most important thing to remember is to use quality ingredients.
Sausage. A lot of flavor will be coming from the meat you choose, so you want to make sure it's a brand or type you like.
Cheese. This recipe also calls for a parmesan cheese rind. If you've never cooked with rinds before, you should absolutely start! Parmesan rinds are not waxed and do not contain any additives, so they are perfect to use in your soup. They have tons of flavor and simply soften as they are boiled, but do not fully melt. This means that your broth will be infused with a cheesy flavor without actually adding fistfuls of cheese. Buy a few (they are very inexpensive) and store them in the freezer for future soups and stews. Parmesan cheese rinds are typically available in any grocery store that has a cheese counter (I get mine at Shop Rite). If you don't see any on the shelf for sale, ask someone behind the counter if they sell them. Sometimes they just don't put them out. They're usually more than happy to sell them since they would just go in the garbage otherwise.
Beans. While the brand or type of white bean you use doesn't matter so much, you'll want to follow the instruction to blend some of the beans. This is the step that will give your soup its creamy texture. I usually use my immersion blender and just blend the beans up quickly with some of the broth in a mason jar or measuring cup. It's pretty quick, and when combined with the cheese infused broth from your cheese rind, will make the soup taste and feel much richer than it is.
Mediterranean White Bean Soup
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb Italian sausage, casing removed
1 Medium yellow onion, small dice, about 1 cup
2-3 Stalks celery, small dice, about 1/3 cup
2 Large carrots, small dice, about 1 cup
4 Cloves garlic, minced
1/8 Tsp crushed red pepper (or more to taste)
1/3 Cup dry white wine
6 Cups chicken broth, divided
2 15 oz cans of cannellini or other small white beans (4 cups prepared beans), drained and rinsed, divided
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, minced or 1 tsp dried
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves, stems removed or 1 tsp dried
1 Bay leaf
1 Parmesan rind
1 Lg bunch swiss chard or baby kale, roughly chopped (about 2 cups loosely packed)
In a Dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add sausage and cook till browned, using a spoon to break it up into small pieces; remove from pot and set aside. If there is any excess fat, pour it off.
Add onion, celery and carrots to the pot. Cook for 5 minutes or until softened. Add a teaspoon or two of olive oil if the pot looks dry.
While the vegetables cook, blend 1 cup of the white beans with 1 cup of the chicken stock. Set aside.
To the vegetables, add garlic and crushed red pepper; allow to cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant.
Return sausage to the pot and add wine. Allow to simmer for about two minutes. (there will not be much liquid in the pot)
Add blended beans, remaining chicken broth, remaining white beans, rosemary, thyme, bay leaf and parmesan rind. Bring to a simmer, and allow to simmer uncovered for 20 minutes.
Add swiss chard. Cook for about 5 minutes more or until greens are wilted.
Remove from heat and serve.
Makes about 6 servings
Time saving tips:
Double and freeze excess for future meals. This will hold up very well in the freezer.
Skip chopping the veggies by hand. The onions, carrots, and celery should be cut rather finely, so a food processor would be perfect here. Just be careful not to grind them into a puree (although if that happens it will still taste just fine!)
I've chosen to chop up the fresh herbs, but if you don't mind larger pieces, skip this as well and throw the whole springs in!
If you aren't looking for a creamy soup or feel that it's not as important as the general flavor, you can skip blending the beans. Simply add all the beans at the same time to save some time/energy.