White Bean Puree with Prosciutto Crespelle
A silky, sophisticated soup that is proof beans can be so much more than humble peasant food.
Serve this delicious soup as a warming first course or main dish. You can use cannellini beans or white navy beans in this soup, but given the choice, we prefer the cannellinis. They’re larger and have comparatively less skin so they produce a creamier soup. [Editor’s note: recipe from Sam Mogannam’s Eat Good Food cookbook.]
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
4 large sage leaves, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bay leaf
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock (or low-sodium broth), more as needed
3 cups cooked cannellini beans or white navy beans, (two 15-ounce cans, drained and rinsed)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 thin slices prosciutto
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, more as needed
In a large (8 quart) pot, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the celery and carrot and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until they are soft, about 10-minutes. Add the sage, garlic, and bay leaf and continue to cook for 2 more minutes, or until aromatic.
Add the stock and beans, 2 teaspoons salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring just to a boil, then lower the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Continue to cook, uncovered, until the vegetables are completely soft and have started to break down a bit, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Meanwhile, position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Brush both sides of the prosciutto slices lightly with oil and arrange them in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake just until they are slightly darker and wrinkly, 10 to 15 minutes. Let them cool undisturbed on the baking sheet–they will crisp up as they cool. Break into large shards and set aside. (You can make these up to 6 hours ahead of time.)
To finish the soup, remove and discard the bay leaf and, working in batches, carefully puree the soup in a blender. If you prefer a thinner soup, add up to 2 cups more broth to adjust the thickness.
Stir in the lemon juice and taste. Adjust with more lemon juice, salt, or pepper as needed and reheat as necessary.
Just before serving, divide the soup among bowls and garnish with the prosciutto crespelle.
Tip: For a vegetarian garnish, you can fry whole sage leaves instead of making the crespelle. Just heat a bit of olive oil in a small skillet and add the sage leaves, a few at a time. Fry until bright green (15 to 30 seconds), and then immediately transfer to a paper-towel lined plate. Make more than you need–they’re so delicious you’ll find yourself nibbling on them as you go.