White Bean Soup (adapted from Williams-Sonoma Kitchen)
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for brushing
1/4 cup chopped pancetta (optional)
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 cans (each 15 oz.) cannellini beans, drained
5 cups chicken broth
3/4 tsp. finely chopped fresh thyme
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1.In a 3 1/2-quart Dutch oven over medium heat, warm 2 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until crispy, about 5 minutes.
2.Add the onion, carrot and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
3.Add the cannellini beans, broth and thyme and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.
4.Remove the pan from the heat. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth. Stir in the cheese and season with salt and black pepper. Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and serve immediately with crostini.
Note: Although we usually have pancetta in the house, I was out this day, so I made it without the meat and it was scrumptious (we were so sad to see the bottom of the pot!); I cannot imagine how much more delish it would be with pancetta. (If you don't have access to pancetta, try thick-cut bacon.)