New York City is in the throes of a terrible cold snap, and you’d better believe I’m countering it with as much soup as I can muster. I can think of very few things that are more comforting and restorative than the aromas of garlic and onion and herbs filling the apartment, or of that first slurp of broth that warms you right through. The promise of leftovers is an added bonus.
8 cloves garlic, peeled
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion, peeled and chopped
4 carrots, trimmed and chopped
4 stalks celery, trimmed and chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup white wine
6 cups cranberry beans*
1 quart stock (I used homemade chicken stock) or broth or water
Several branches fresh thyme and sage
1 bay leaf
1 parmesan rind
1/2 cup small pasta, like ditalini or elbows
1 cup water
*I used dried beans, soaking 2 cups of them overnight covered with about 6-8 cups of water. You can substitute canned beans or use the hot soak or quick soak methods discussed here.
Preheat oven to 400. Wrap garlic cloves in a double layer of foil and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Place into oven and allow to roast for 25 minutes. Remove and set aside.
Place the remaining olive oil into a large heavy bottomed pan and warm over medium heat. Add the softened garlic cloves and their oil, mashing the cloves into a paste. Add onion, carrots and celery along with a few pinches of salt and allow to soften. Add tomato paste and stir through. Add wine and allow to cook uncovered several minutes, and then add the beans, stock, herbs and parmesan rind. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat. Allow the soup to cook until the beans are tender, about 45 minutes.
Remove the herb branches and bay leaf, taste and adjust seasoning, then add the water and pasta and allow to cook another 10-15 minutes, until pasta is al dente. Garnish with additional chopped herbs and freshly grated parmesan.