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This smooth, golden soup is rich and creamy despite being relatively low-fat. We like to serve it with toasted rounds of French bread (called crostini), which we've brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with Parmesan before baking.
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) dried canellini, great Northern, navy, or other white beans
6 cups (1 1/2 quarts) water
6 to 8 whole, peeled garlic cloves
1 cup (5 ounces) diced onions
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 cups (1 pint) chicken stock
2 1/2 cups (5 ounces) fresh soft bread crumbs
3 tablespoons sesame tahini (optional)
1 cup (8 ounces) light cream or chicken broth (to adjust the consistency of the soup)
Place the beans in a large pot, cover them with the 6 cups of water, and soak them overnight.
The next day, drain the beans, transfer them to a large saucepan, add 4 cups of water, and simmer them for 1 hour. Add the garlic, onions, bay leaf, salt, pepper and chicken stock. Simmer until the beans are soft. Add the bread crumbs and simmer for 5 minutes. The mixture will be quite thick; stir often to prevent the bottom from scorching. Remove the soup from the heat, and cool it slightly. Use a food processor or blender to purŽe the soup until it's creamy and smooth (or purŽe it right in the pan, using an immersion blender). Return the soup to the pot and add the sesame tahani and optional cream or chicken stock to achieve the consistency you desire. Serve hot with Parmesan crostini. Yield: twelve 1-cup servings.
24 thin (1/4-inch) crosswise slices from a baguetteBrush the slices of baguette with olive oil (or spray them with olive oil spray). Place them on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake them for 15 minutes at 350°F. Sprinkle them with the grated Parmesan cheese, and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until the crostini are light brown and very crisp. Remove them from the oven, cool completely and store in an airtight container. (These may be made several days ahead.) Serve them with the soup.
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup (1 1/2 ounces) grated Parmesan cheese
Nutrition information per serving (1 1/4 cups soup with 2 crostini, 293g): 323 cal, 13g fat,13g protein,39g complex carbohydrates, 7g dietary fiber, 16mg cholesterol, 688mg sodium, 526mg potassium, 52RE vitamin A, 2mg vitamin C, 5mg iron, 212mg calcium, 188mg phosphorus.