Keep soffritto — the Italian base for soups, stews and sauces — in your freezer and this  healthy comfort meal is minutes away.  Perfect on a winter day and easy to take with you on a mountain vacation.

White Beans and Toast

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 3 medium onions
  • 1 red bell pepper (about 1 cup chopped)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt (plus more to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper (plus more to taste)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp. tomato paste
  • 2  x 15 oz. cans of cannellini beans, rinsed
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 2 tbsp. flat leaf parsley, chopped (optional)
  • thick sliced whole wheat bread (1-2 slices per person)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan (optional for vegans)

Directions

Making the soffritto (or skip this step if you have some on hand):

  1. Finely chop onions and red pepper (or pulse them separately in a food processor if you have one; be careful not to puree them). Combine and mix well in a medium bowl.
  2. Heat oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat.  Add the onion/pepper mix to the pan and add 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.
  3. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring often, until vegetables are softened.
  4. Add the tomato paste and garlic, and continue cooking for a few minutes until the paste turns a deep red color.
  5. Remove all the soffritto to a separate bowl to cool, keeping only a 1/2 C. for this meal. Once cooled, you can package and freeze the sofrito in 1/2 C servings for future meals.

Making the beans once the soffritto is done:

  1. Heat the soffritto and beans over medium-high heat stirring often (only takes about 1 min).
  2. Add 3 cups of the broth and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally while it thickens slightly (about 3-4 minutes although I find it doesn’t thicken very much).
  3. Add the tomato halves and continue cooking 3-4 minutes until the tomatoes soften a little.
  4. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep warm

Preparing the cheesy toast:

This is all about how you want this meal to taste and how much of a rush you are in. Fast way: Toast your bread, then place on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle with parmesan and place under broiler until it melts. Alternatively you can run the bread with a halved garlic clove, then bake it with the cheese on top at 375ºF for about 5 minutes. Either will work well — the key is making sure the bread is well dried out so that it doesn’t get too soggy when you cover it with beans.

Assembling:

Place individual servings of toast in the bottom of flat soup bowl. Cover with about a cup of bean mixture and sprinkle parmesan and (optional) chopped parsley on top.


Lessons Learned/Advice:

  • Keep soffritto in the freezer to make this a super fast week day meal; as long as you have beans and parmesan on hand, the only fresh ingredient you will need is cherry tomatoes
  • There are many variations on soffritto, including the addition of carrots and celery but I think of that as more a french mire poix mix; several options written about on Food 52
  • Make sure the toast is dried out a little (either by baking or toasting) or your meal will end up soggy
  • Easy to make this vegan by just eliminating the parmesan although you might want to sprinkle some salt flakes on the top just of each serving
  • Goes well with grilled sausage or grilled chicken if you’re looking for more protein

Credits:

Based on a recipe from my go-to resource:  Epicurious.  Thanks Epicurious.

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