LUCY BURDETTE: It's winter, even in Key West, which means that we've gone native and want to curl up and nap like these guys. With maybe some hot soup for supper.
I've just about given up on soup because of my low sodium diet – most soups turn out to rely quite a bit on salt to make the flavor pop. But when I saw a recipe in Bon Appetit for a pasta e fagioli (pasta and beans) with a homemade broth that I thought I could tweak, I couldn't resist giving it a try.
I was worried about flavor though, so added two carrots and two sticks of celery to the mix. I also made the mistake of buying escarole instead of endive, but that worked out fine!
Ingredients for the stock
one and a half cups of dry white cannellini beans
2 quarts water
2 sticks celery with leaves
2 peeled carrots
2 bay leaves
1/2 head of garlic
1/2 tsp dried red pepper
handful of chopped parsley
To cook the beans, you can either soak them covered in water overnight, or use the quick method, bringing them to a simmer for two minutes. Then cover the pot and let it sit for an hour. Next, drain and rinse the beans. Add all the above ingredients to the pot. Bring all this to the simmer and let it cook for an hour and a half.
Ingredients for the soup base
2-3 sticks of celery, diced
2-3 carrots, diced
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, diced
3 tablespoons olive oil
14.5 ounce can of no-salt added diced tomatoes
3/4 cup white wine
Meanwhile in a second pot, sauté the chopped celery, carrots, onion, and two garlic cloves in 3 tablespoons of olive oil. When the vegetables are soft, add the tomatoes and simmer until most of the juice has evaporated. And 3/4 cup white wine and simmer again.
When the big pot has finished simmering, drain the beans, discard the vegetables, and add the beans to the second pot, along with 4 cups of water or low sodium chicken stock. Simmer this all together, then add 6 oz of good pasta, broken into smallish pieces. Simmer until al dente, then add 1/2 head chopped escarole and simmer for several minutes until wilted.
Serve with freshly-grated Parmesan cheese.
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