Friday, March 11, 2011

Tomato Soup with White Beans & Pasta

Recipe modified by Gretchen Wilson – June 5, 2011
For a commentary-free and printer-friendly version of it, please click here.

Recipe originally published in All You, January 2011

I’m not really sure at what point in my life this happened, but I fell in love with tomato soup.  It’s odd since I don’t like sliced tomatoes, and never have.  However, when I’m feeling chilled and in need of comfort, nothing makes me happier than a bowl of tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich.  This recipe was a tomato soup with pasta and beans to give it a carb- and protein-boost, not to mention the antioxidant benefits of lycopene in the tomatoes.  I was game.

My finished product:

© You Want Me to Cook?

Picture published with recipe:

© All You

Well my picture sucked.  But getting past that… my soup doesn’t appear to be as tomato chunky as theirs.  Ordinarily, I’d say that’s a good thing, but I was disappointed with that.  I also selected to use small shell pasta since I had it on hand.  Even so, it had a rich taste that warmed me up and put a smile on my face.

for more details about what my ratings mean, go to Gretchen’s Rating System

MessNADA – since I used prepared garlic and didn’t have to chop the parsley, all I had to do was open cans and wash off some beans.  Everything was done in a single pot which I didn’t have to scrub when it was all done.

Start-to-Finish Time: UNDER 30 MINUTES – granted, I didn’t chop the garlic or herbs, but even if I had, I still don’t think it would have taken me over 30 minutes.

Prep Work: ALL FINGERS STILL HERE – again, had I had to chop garlic or parsley (small and tedious tasks) as in the original recipe, I probably would have given this a LOSS OF FINGER rating.  The way I changed the recipe did not have me doing any chopping at all.

Ease of Recipe: COOK IT IN MY SLEEP – If you can throw everything in a pan and heat it, you can make this dish.  Not even the “I can’t boil water” excuse will fly here.

OverallYUMMY – This was a soup that I almost always have the ingredients on hand.  If I’m looking for a homemade soup, this will be the one I go to first.

Recipe Information:
Time estimates are from the original publisher of the recipe, not the length of time it took me to create it.  Look for my comments below.  Nutritional Information is based on original recipe.  Any changes I make to reduce the caloric, fat, cholesterol or sodium content are not reflected in the Nutritional Information.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4

Nutritional Information
Calories 255
Total Fat 8g (Saturated Fat 1g)
Cholesterol 4mg
Sodium 1665mg
Total Carbohydrate 36g
Fiber 6g
Protein 12g

The time estimate is fairly accurate, although it could even be less if you cut some of the corners, like I did.  You will get 4 healthy-size servings out of this pot of soup, but you can stretch it out a little by serving it with a sandwich or salad.  If you choose to eat it by itself, definitely have some bread as a side dish.

The nutritional information looks great – until you get to the sodium.  When using canned vegetables, you are going to have increased sodium levels.  However, if you wash the beans well and purchase low-sodium chicken broth and “no salt added” tomatoes, you are going to really reduce that number further.  See the ingredient comments for more details.

Changes denoted by red text

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
2 cans (15 ounces each) diced tomatoes
28 ounces low-sodium no-fat chicken broth
½ cup small shell pasta
1 can (15 ounces) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
Salt and pepper to taste
2 teaspoons dried parsley

Ingredient Notes:
Olive Oil – should you use your really expensive extra-virgin olive oil or not.  Since it is not the focus of the dish and is used as a cooking medium, don’t waste your good olive oil stash.  The cheap(er) stuff works just fine.

Garlic – the original recipe called for chopped garlic, which some say is the best way to get the most taste out of your garlic.  Honestly, I’ve never had the patience to chop it, so I’ve always used minced.  I also save extra time using the pre-minced garlic in a jar.  Is it the most gourmet way to cook?  No, but I’m not a gourmet chef either.

Tomatoes – canned tomatoes can be an ingredient that raises the amount of sodium in a dish.  Although I was unaware of this product until recently (meaning I didn’t use it in this dish), Hunt’s now has “No Salt Added” diced tomatoes.

Chicken Broth
  • Almost all of the chicken broth I’ve found that is reduced-sodium is usually also no-fat.  One of the healthiest options I’ve found, so far, is Swanson’s Certified Organic chicken broth which has significantly lower sodium than its counterparts.
  • If you want to make this dish completely vegetarian, use vegetable stock.

Small Shell Pasta – the original recipe calls for tubetini, which I can’t find in my resources at all.  After looking closer at the picture, it looks as though they used tripolini (pronounced tri-pah-LEE-nee) which look like tiny bows.  I used small shell pasta, but you can use any small pasta, including macaroni, that you have on hand.

Cannellini Beans
  • It is an Italian, white bean that is a little nutty tasting.  If you can’t find them, you can substitute Great Northern or Navy beans.
  • If you look at the sodium content of canned beans, you’ll notice it is pretty high.  Most of the sodium is in the liquid in the can, so you should rinse them well and drain them (as to not dilute your soup).  Place them in a colander and pass cool water over them while swirling them with your hand.  When they lose the “slimy” feeling, turn off the water and let them drain for a few minutes.

Parsley – the original recipe called for 2 tablespoons of fresh parsley chopped, but unless you have something planned for the rest of the bunch, you’ll end up wasting it.  I decided to use dried and used one teaspoon for tablespoon.

Equipment Needed:
Extra-Large saucepan
Large spoon

Equipment Notes:
Extra-Large Saucepan – whatever saucepan you use, it has to hold 30 ounces of tomatoes, 28 ounces of chicken broth and 15 ounces of beans.  That’s a significant amount of liquid and doesn’t include the rest of the ingredients.

(1)  Warm oil in an extra-large saucepan over medium-high heat.

Before proceeding, make sure the following ingredients are measured and ready (i.e. cans opened) to add to the soup: garlic, oregano, tomatoes and chicken broth.  The garlic and oregano will burn quickly if you aren’t prepared to add liquid.

(2)  Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

(3)  Add oregano, stir once, then add tomatoes with juice and chicken broth. Bring to a boil.

(4)  Add pasta, stir, and cook until just tender, about 8 minutes.

(5)  Stir in beans, lower heat and simmer until warmed through, about 5 minutes.

(6)  Season with salt and pepper, stir in parsley and serve, drizzling each portion with additional olive oil if desired.

True, it isn’t the creamy tomato soup that you’re used to having from the can, but it is really just as delicious.  This is a chunky broth soup that has a savory garlic and tomato flavor.  The pasta and beans adds a little “heft” to the recipe so it feels like a meal.

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