Friday, September 7, 2007

Acquacotta con Fagioli

A gorgeous presentation of bright red, white, and green makes this simple, fresh soup look as good as it tastes. The Italian word Acquacotta refers to a peasant style soup, literally meaning "cooked water". Fagioli means white beans or cannellini.

Acquacotta con Fagioli

Extra virgin olive oil
4 or 5 smashed and peeled garlic cloves
1 small onion, cut into strips or thin petals
1 ½ cups unsalted or low sodium broth or stock

14 oz can cannellini beans
12-14 oz diced tomatoes
½ cup leftover chicken, if you have it
6 oz bag baby spinach leaves
1 baton sourdough bread
1 wedge asiago cheese

Coat the bottom of a soup or stock pot with some extra virgin olive oil. Coarse chop the smashed garlic and saute in oil.

Meanwhile, cut the ends off the onion and remove the skin and first layer of onion. Set the onion on its end. Put the point of your knife on the center of the top of the onion. Let the blade cut from the center to the edge and all the way down through the onion. Continue cutting the onion as if you would slice a cake – into wedges. As the layers separate off the wedge, you will be left with onion strips or thin petals. This is my favorite cut for soups, stir fry, etc. Add the onion to the garlic and saute until soft. Add the broth or stock. Bring to a bubble.

While you are waiting for the soup to bubble, cut the sourdough bread into slices wit
h a bias cut. Grease a baking pan with oil. Drizzle the bread with some oil too. Shred a thick layer of asiago onto the top of the bread slices. Sprinkle with fresh ground black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, and garlic powder. Place the bread on the greased pan and preheat the broiler.

Drain about half the liquid out of the can of beans, and add to the soup. Drain about half the liquid off the diced tomatoes, and add the tomatoes. Add the chicken, optional. Bring it back up to a gentle simmer.

Put the bread under the broiler. Add all the spinach into the soup and cover with a lid. Ge
t the serving bowls out and a platter for the toasted bread. Check the bread. Stir the spinach into the soup. The spinach only takes about 90 seconds to wilt into the soup, and the bread only takes 2-3 minutes for the edges to brown and the cheese to melt. Try to capture the neon green color of the spinach when you scoop the soup into the serving bowls. Pile the cheesey toast onto the platter. Shred the remainder of the asiago on top of the soup bowls and serve.


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