Tuscan White Bean Soup
1 pound white navy beans
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 leeks, white and tender green parts, cleaned well and chopped
1/2 onion, diced
5 celery stalks, diced
3 carrots, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
5 cups water
5 teaspoons vegetable base (such as Better than Bouillon brand), or bouillon cubes
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
juice of 1/2 lemon
minced fresh rosemary, lemon wedges, and grated fresh Parmesan cheese, for serving (optional)
Sort the beans and place them in a medium heavy pot. Add enough water to cover the beans by two inches. Bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute. Turn off the heat and let the beans sit for 1 hour. Drain and rinse the beans; set aside.
In the same pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the leeks and onion and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the celery, carrots, and garlic and cook for 10 minutes more, stirring often. Add the beans and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Add the vegetable base, rosemary, and pepper, and cook for 40 minutes more, until the beans are soft.
Carefully transfer 3 cups of the soup to a blender. Puree and return to the pot. Stir in the lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Sprinkle each bowl with a pinch of extra rosemary and Parmesan cheese if desired, and serve with a lemon wedge.
Belle of the Kitchen