I am not sure when the idea of Meatless Monday got so popular, but I did refer to Wikipedia when writing my fourth post, because I was curious. It turns out that in 2003, the Meatless Monday campaign was “re-started” focusing its initiative on Monday for multiple reasons. Monday is typically the beginning of the workweek, and the day when individuals settle back into their weekly routine.
Those unhealthy habits ( picture above) enjoyed over the weekend, are meant to be kicked to the curb, and positive choices for the new week should prevail. Apparently, a weekly reminder to restart healthy habits also encourages success, and in 2009, a trial published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine showed two thirds of participants responded with improvements in their overall health!
The initiative began in America during World War I, when conserving food would support U.S. troops, as well as feed populations in Europe. Wikipedia states, “The FDA created the slogan ‘Food Will Win the War’ and coined the terms ‘Meatless Monday’ and ‘Wheatless Wednesday’ to remind Americans to reduce intake of these products.”
I for one do not participate in this special meat free day, as honestly I would forget, make some meal or snack on a Monday with meat, and then feel like a failure, so riddled with guilt, that I couldn’t keep my meat-free commitment. It is too much pressure!
In my One-Pot Wonder Blogger’s Party fourth post, noting that it is Monday, I decided to make a Meat-free dish. The Tuscan White Bean Soup with Broccoli Rabe, looked delicious, and is a recipe that I can share from Emeril’s new pre-released cookbook, Sizzling Skillets and Other One-Pot Wonders. The Tuscan White Bean Soup is a comforting and hearty soup, with flavors reminiscent of northern Italy. Emeril prefers using baby limas for their creamy and tender texture, also known to others such as myself, as butter beans. In Italy, great Northern beans or cannellini’s would be used in this dish, so I went with the latter.
Yesterday, I got up very early to get a head start on the soup, as my family was coming over for a non-soup related meal. I soaked my cannellini beans, so they did not soak overnight, but they ended up being perfect. I had no problem locating broccoli rabe or any of the other ingredients, and since I still had much on hand from recipes cooked the week prior, the dish did not require another trip to the store. I made my own chicken stock last week from the bones of the One-Pot Chicken, and Chicken Pot Pie with Biscuit Top, which I will be writing about in future posts, so I was good to go!
The recipe was easy to follow and called for the rind of the Parmesean-Reggiano, which added a wonderful nutty flavor component. Towards the end of cooking time, a cup of beans is removed and mashed, then added back to create a creamier texture. This is a trick I also use when cooking Red Beans and Rice.
The Tuscan Bean Soup with Broccoli Rabe is a feel good soup that your entire family will enjoy, and I highly recommend you give it a try.
Tuscan White Bean Soup with Broccoli Rabe
This is a comforting, hearty soup with flavors reminiscent of northern Italy. We used baby lima beans because we just love their tender, creamy consistency, although in Italy it would likely be made with cannellini beans or great Northern beans. Use whichever beans you love or have on hand; just take note that the cooking time will vary slightly.
13 cups, about 6 servings
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups small-diced onion
- 1 cup small-diced celery
- 1 cup small-diced red bell pepper
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 8 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 pounds dried white beans (cannellini, baby lima, or great Northern), rinsed, picked over, soaked overnight, and drained
- 1 piece Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese rind, about 1 × 3 inches
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 cups water
- 1 1/2 pounds broccoli rabe, tough stem ends trimmed, chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- Grated zest of 1 lemon
- 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 6 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grated (about 1 1/2 cups)
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
- Heat the olive oil in an 8-quart soup pot or stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery, bell pepper, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are tender, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic, dried Italian herbs, and crushed red pepper and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the stock, beans, Parmesan rind, bay leaf, and water and bring to a low boil. Reduce the heat to simmer gently and cook, partially covered and stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender, 45 to 60 minutes.
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer about 1 cup of the beans from the pot to a small bowl and mash them with the back of a spoon. Return the mashed beans to the soup and add the remaining 1 tablespoon salt. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and continue to cook, uncovered, until the broth thickens slightly, about 15 minutes. Add the remaining black pepper, the broccoli rabe, and rosemary sprig and continue to cook until the broccoli rabe is just tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the lemon zest and lemon juice. Remove the Parmesan rind, bay leaf, and rosemary sprig and discard them. Serve the soup in wide, shallow bowls, garnished with grated Parmesan and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.