Beans are one of the favorite foods in our house and with good reason! This is a classic Italian borlotti beans and potato soup that I’ve been making forever. It’s hearty, rich, flavorful and mouthwatering! What’s even better, it freezes very well and makes a great next-day bean dip. It’s also creamy without using any dairy!
Let me warn you though, a borlotti beans and potato soup takes some planning. Still with a little organization, you could prepare the first few steps a few days ahead (maybe on a weekend?). That would allow you to then finish it off in 30 minutes during the week for a quick dinner. This one is a keeper for sure but it’s important to follow all of the steps. Don’t be like me and think you can skip soaking dried beans. I tried skipping this step for years until one day I woke up and decided to give the soak a try.
It is very hard to tell how old dried beans that you bought at a grocery store might be. The older they are, the longer they will take to cook. Because I never know how old the beans are, I prefer to pre-cook them ahead of time or even prepare the whole dish ahead of time because one is true with beans soups: they always taste better the next day! To be on the safe side, plan for anywhere between one and three hours when cooking dried beans.
Cooking With Dried Beans
My grandmother, who is the bean expert in our family, has been telling me to soak dried beans since I started cooking. Still I always thought that she might just be a tad too old-fashioned and that soaking beans wasn’t that necessary. I thought that I could substitute prolonged cooking for soaking dried beans. It wasn’t until I decided to give the soak a try that I saw the difference. Not only that, but I also started learning about the benefits of soaking dried beans.
Benefits of Dried Borlotti Beans
There are many benefits of soaking dried beans but without going all scientific on you, let me just say that soaking beans:
- helps remove debris and dirt, especially under the skin
- improves digestibility
- results in creamier beans with softer skin (especially if you use salted water for soaking)
- enhances nutritional benefits
- shortens the cooking time
Always discard the soaking water (the one you soaked beans in, not the one you cooked them in). While it may be tempting to keep the water you soaked beans in for added flavor, the soaking liquid contains some of the bean’s complex carbohydrates that some people may have trouble digesting. So, after you’re done soaking dried beans, drain and rinse them well and use clean water for cooking beans. Of course, if you’re one of those lucky people who can get ahold of some fresh borlotti beans, dismiss the whole soaking idea. Fresh and canned beans don’t require soaking while dried beans do.
To Make Borlotti Beans and Potato Soup, You’ll Need:
- A Large Bowl with a Lid to soak beans
- Two stock/ sauce pots, minimum 4-quart each.
- A peeler
- Cutting Board
- Chef’s knife
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Wooden spatula
- Food processor or Immersion blender
- 8 oz borlotti beans (AKA cranberry beans), dried and soaked overnight
- 3 medium potatoes, diced
- 1 medium carrot, sliced
- 1 medium carrot, chopped
- 1 sweet yellow onion, chopped
- 1 celery stalk, chopped
- 3 fresh sage leaves
- 1 tbsp chopped parsley
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ⅓ cup good bacon, chopped
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 2 tbsp salt
- Inactive Prep Time: Soak the beans the night before. Add 2 tbsp of salt in 4 quarts of water, stir, and let soak overnight but never longer than 24 hours. Discard the soaking water and rinse the beans.
- Place the presoaked beans in a 4-quart saucepan, cover with water and bring to boil. Lower the heat and cook on medium heat for at least an hour. If your beans are older (which is always very hard to tell when you start cooking), you may need to adjust the cooking time (beans should be easy to mash with a fork when done). I am not a stranger to buying dried beans that needed a few hours on the stove. Tip: pre-cooked them ahead of time.
- Prep the veggies while the beans are cooking.
- In a separate stock pot, heat up the olive oil and sauté the onions, garlic, chopped carrots, celery and sage leaves until they turn a nice golden color, and brown bits buildup at the bottom of the pan (stir often, don’t let it burn!). Chefs call this part sautéing aromatics, I call it “I’ll have to scrub this pot afterwards.”
- Add the chopped bacon and brown well while scraping the brown bits off the bottom of the pot so it doesn’t burn.
- Once the bacon is nice and crisp, add potatoes and sliced carrots, and brown them as well. Make sure you keep scraping up the brown bits off the bottom with a wooden spoon and stir them into the sauté.
- After the potatoes are nice and brown, use a ladle to add about 4 to 5 cups of water that beans cooked in to the veggies; you will want to add just enough water to barely cover the vegetables in water. Stir well and let simmer for 15-20 minutes.
- Once the beans are cooked, drain and add then to the veggies. Stir in well and season with salt and pepper.
- Cook everything together for 5 minutes.
- Transfer about a ¼ of the soup to a food processor and pulse until smooth; if you don’t have a food processor, an immersion blender will also get the job done.
- Return the creamed beans from the food processor to the pot and blend in with the rest of the soup.
- Stir in the chopped fresh parsley and serve warm with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (freshly grate parmesan cheese is also amazing).
To make a creamy soup, start by pulsing about ¼ of the soup in the food processor. For a thicker soup, cream more of it.
The leftovers make a great bean dip. Throw in a food processor and pulse a few times to get to dip texture.
Freezes well; thaw and warm-up on the stove top. Add a ¼ cup of water to the saucepan before adding the soup and stir well. Use an immersion blender or a food processor to correct the texture if needed.
This recipe is adapted from Giallozaferrano.it
If you loved this borlotti beans and potato soup, you may like bean recipes, too:
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