Thursday, June 21, 2012

0 Recipe #309: Italian-Style Two-Bean Soup

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I know it's like 90 plus freakin' degrees outside, but yesterday, for some unknown reason, I just felt like having an Italian-style tomato and legume based soup for dinner. Thankfully, this soup is really quick and easy to make, so it didn't really steam up the kitchen at all.

Since I'd already posted twice yesterday, I thought I'd save this recipe for today. :)

Of course, the legumes and tomatoes in this soup recipe are loaded with nutrients: this soup is a great source of healthy protein and carbs, and is also rich in dietary fiber, folate (vitamin B6), iron, ALA (alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid), molybdenum, lycopene, lysine, as well as a variety of other vitamins and minerals. Its many antioxidants have a myriad number of health benefits.

This soup also makes an excellent post-exercise recovery meal for athletes: its protein-rich legumes help to repair the tiny muscle fiber tears that occur during exercise, and its phytonutrients help to reduce post-exercise inflammation; the lycopene and lysine in the tomatoes also contribute to good bone, tendon, and joint health -- another obvious benefit for athletes and other active individuals. :) Plus, lycopene is also good for your eyesight and is thought to prevent muscle degeneration.

In general, this soup has many other health benefits as well: Recent studies indicate that legumes may help with weight management, as legume intake is linked to increased satiety and reduced appetite: in a recent study, participants who regularly ate chickpeas consumed fewer snacks, processed foods, and overall calories. The excellent combination of protein and fiber in legumes is highly beneficial for the digestive tract (particularly the colon) and cardiovascular system, and also improves blood sugar regulation. Legumes lower the risk of type 2 diabetes as well as several types of cancer. Chickpeas, in particular, help to better regulate blood fats; they are useful in lowering LDL-cholesterol, total cholesterol, and triglycerides.

Anyhow, enough with the fact-dispensing and on with the recipe. :)


Italian-style Two-Bean Soup

Ingredients:
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. garlic, peeled and finely minced
2 Tbsp. shallots, peeled and finely minced
1/2 c. yellow onion, peeled and diced (about 1/4 large yellow onion)
1 large bay leaf
1/2 c. red wine (nothing too oaky; I used a Malbec)
2 15.5 oz. cans chickpeas
2 15.5 oz. cans black beans
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
4 c. water
1/2 tsp. salt, or to taste
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. red chili pepper flakes (optional)
1 Tbsp. paprika
1 1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves
1 tsp. dried marjoram leaves
1 tsp. dried oregano leaves
1/2 tsp. dried, crushed rosemary leaves
1/4 tsp. ground tumeric
1/2 c. fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
1 tsp. lemon juice, or to taste
3/8 c. Parmesan cheese (or vegan cheese substitute) (about 1 Tbsp. per serving)

Directions: In a large stock pot, heat olive oil on high until glistening. Reduce heat to low, add garlic, shallots, onions, and bay leaf, and sauté until tender, about 4-5 minutes. Deglaze with red wine and reduce volume by about half. Add chickpeas, black beans, crushed tomatoes, and tomato paste, and stir to combine. Cook for about a minute, stirring continuously, and then pour in water. Add salt, pepper, red chili pepper flakes (if using), paprika, dried thyme leaves, dried marjoram leaves, dried oregano leaves, dried, crushed rosemary leaves, and ground turmeric. Cover and cook for about 10-15 minutes, lifting lid up occasionally check on the soup, and then stirring and adding more water as necessary. Turn off heat and stir in basil. Taste and adjust seasoning accordingly to personal preference. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes. Remove bay leaf with a slotted spoon and discard. Stir in lemon juice until well-blended. Ladle soup into bowls and immediately garnish with cheese (while the soup is still hot), so that it melts. Serve and enjoy. (Refrigerate or freeze any leftovers.)

Yield: 6 servings of 2 c. each. (Makes almost 3 qts.)

Chef's Notes: If you prefer a thicker soup, let the soup cool and then purée it in a blender (in batches).

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