Do you love soup? I sure do. More than most other foods, I think that soup often has memories attached to it: like being nursed back to health with some homemade chicken and dumpling soup prepared by my mom. My mom’s soup somehow always did the trick. I’m not sure the soup actually healed me, but the memory of it doing so is strong.
This is not a soup from my childhood nor have I been making this soup for my family over the years, but it’s a soup with a memory attached. This lovely soup reminds me of a mistake I made recently, proving sometimes mistakes are not all that bad. By mistake, I accidentally bought the wrong kind of beans at the store. I wanted chickpeas (for my older son who is chickpea obsessed these days) but I was rushing (as I often do) and bought navy beans instead–lots of them.
With limited pantry space available (mine is often a bit full…) I needed to figure out what to do with my many mistake beans. I did what any other food blogger would do in a pinch, I searched “bean soup” online and scrolled my way down numerous soup posts till I found a gem. This recipe is from the blog Love & Lemons, and it’s a keeper.
I have adapted the recipe only slightly. This is a great, easy-to-make (rather healthy) blended soup made with either vegetable or chicken stock to accommodate any vegetarian or vegan soup lovers. The original recipe uses cannellini beans, a well know kidney-shaped bean from Italy. But navy beans are actually a great substitute for cannellini beans. And with my pile of navy beans before me, I decided to make this soup.
I have previously posted a vegan lentil soup recipe that has some similarities. I like them both. But the addition of cashews in this white bean tomato soup adds a lovely creaminess without the use of heavy cream. You can omit the nuts if you wish, they are not imperative, but I suggest you try it this way once, as I think the nuts add nicely to the consistency.
The wilted spinach and whole beans add texture. I also added crispy croutons to incorporate some crunch-factor (and because by boys love croutons), and a dash of red pepper flakes to enhance the flavor profile. This soup is perfect for a cool Fall night or for lunch on the weekends. It works great made ahead and reheated later as well. A splash of water or vegetable stock during reheating can work magic, just remember to readjust the seasoning as well.
Creamy White Bean Tomato Soup
- 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
- splash of white wine
- 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 3 to 4 sprigs fresh thyme, plus more for garnish
- 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
- 1/4 cup raw cashews
- 1 3/4 cups canned cannellini beans (or navy beans), divided
- 3 cups baby spinach
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- croutons, for garnish (optional)
- Step 1 Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. When hot, but not smoking, add the onion and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for about 3 minutes, then add the garlic and cook 1 minute longer.
- Step 2 Add the carrots. Continue to cook until the onion is soft and translucent and the carrots begin to soften, about 8 to 10 minutes.
- Step 3 Add the tomatoes. Season with more salt and pepper and continue cooking for about 8 more minutes.
- Step 4 Add the wine, stir and let the alcohol cook off for about 1 minute. Add the cashews, and half of the white beans, the thyme sprigs, the broth and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Step 5 Turn off the heat. Remove the thyme sprigs from the pan and let cool slightly.
- Step 6 When cool enough to handle, carefully pour the mixture into a blender, working in batches if necessary. Blend the soup and season to taste with salt, pepper. If the soup is too thick, add a little more broth or water as desired.
- Step 7 Pour the blended soup back into the pot. Add the remaining beans and the spinach and simmer over low heat until the spinach has wilted slightly and the soup is hot, about 3 more minutes. Add the red pepper flakes and adjust the seasoning as needed.
- Step 8 Garnish with fresh thyme and croutons.