Saturday, February 5, 2011

Creamy Broccoli - White Bean Soup

This soup is so pretty it’s surprising how filling and hearty it tastes.  Puréed soups don’t always satisfy me as a main meal but the addition of broccoli florets, pine nuts, and shavings of Parmesan just before serving make this soup more substantial; all I need is a few bites of a good quality whole grain bread and a green salad and I’m set for dinner. 
Read any Top 10 Super Foods list and you’re bound to see broccoli on it.  Broccoli comes from the nutritionally powerful cabbage family and of all its relatives – cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, and collards – it’s the most potent.  In addition to possessing nitrogen compounds known to be effective in preventing some cancers, it is high in fiber, calcium, folate, potassium, iron, and vitamins C, K, and A. 
This recipe comes from one of my favorite magazines, Whole Living.  Often what I write about on NEL is inspired by something I have read on the the Whole Living pages.  The magazine is part of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and it shows; the writing is excellent, the photography beautiful and the recipes delicious.  

Whole Living
 is not all about food; there are also articles regarding fitness, beauty, wellness, and eco-friendly living.  Best of all, it’s not preachy about its goodness; the articles are approachable and useful in a way that inspires rather than guilts me into living a healthy lifestyle.  The recipe for broccoli soup alone is worth the $15 yearly subscription fee! 
Creamy Broccoli-White Bean Soup
Adapted from Whole Living

I bought an immersion blender on a whim years ago at Broadway Panhandler and have more than gotten my money’s worth out of it.  Is it a kitchen necessity?  Definitely not, but it does help make pureed soups more quickly and with less mess.

A piece of kitchen equipment that is a necessity for healthy cooking (and inexpensive to boot) is a steamer.  Steaming doesn’t require cooking oil or fat and, and unlike boiling, nutrients don’t leech out into the water.  It’s fast, too - broccoli is finished in less than 5 minutes. 
Rather than turn on my big oven to toast the pine nuts, I put them in a small skillet on the stove over medium–high heat.  They only take about 5 minutes so whatever you do, don’t walk away while toasting!

1 head broccoli (1 pound), cut into florets, stems thinly sliced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 - 15 ounce can cannellini beans, drained
2 ½ cups chicken stock
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted
½ ounce shaved Parmesan, for serving

Steam broccoli florets and stems until tender and bright green, about 3 minutes.  Let cool slightly.  Reserve ½ cup florets for garnish.
Heat oil in a medium pot over medium heat.  Sauté onion and garlic until translucent, about 6 minutes.  Add beans and stock and bring mixture to a simmer.  Remove from heat and add broccoli; puree in batches in a blender or with an immersion blender until smooth.  

Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Garnish each bowl with broccoli florets, toasted pine nuts, and shaved Parmesan. 
Serves 4

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