Dear SOS: Earlier this year my wife and I had the best Tuscan tomato soup at Bewley's on Grafton Street in Dublin, Ireland. It was thick, well-seasoned and simply delicious. We both loved it, and we have tried without success to duplicate it. Do you think you could possibly get the recipe?
John R. Browning
Dear John: Bewley's soup is a hearty blend of flavors. It's based on a rich and velvety purée that includes slow-simmered leek, onion and potato brightened with tomato and playful notes of oregano and basil. Diced tender vegetables added toward the end lend extra color and texture, and the white cannellini beans give the soup a nice depth (you might never guess it's vegetarian). Season to taste and you can call it a meal, whether you're in Ireland or the comfort of your home.
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Bewley's Tuscan bean and tomato soup
Total time: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Servings: 10 to 16
Note: Adapted from Bewley's Grafton Street Café in Dublin, Ireland
1/4 cup (½ stick) butter
VIDEO: Click here to watch this recipe being made in the L.A. Times Test Kitchen.
2 pounds baking potatoes (about 3), peeled and diced into ½-inch pieces
1 leek, diced
3 onions, diced and divided
3 cups diced celery (about 8 stalks), divided
1 (28-ounce) can tomatoes
1 pound plum tomatoes (about 4), halved lengthwise
1 teaspoon light brown sugar, more to taste
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil
2 quarts vegetable broth
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups diced carrot (about 4 carrots)
2 cups diced fennel (from about 2 bulbs)
4 cups cooked cannellini beans (white Italian kidney beans), from about 2 (15-ounce) cans, drained, or ½ pound dry
1. In a 5-quart heavy-bottom pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Stir in the potato, leek and all but 2 cups each of the onion and celery and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion just begins to color, about 10 to 12 minutes.
2. Add the canned tomatoes, plum tomatoes and brown sugar, stirring to crush the tomatoes and scrape any flavoring from the bottom of the pan.
3. Stir in the oregano, basil and vegetable broth. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Loosely cover the pan and continue to simmer until the vegetables break down and the soup begins to thicken, about 45 minutes. Remove from heat and purée the soup using an immersion blender, or in batches using a regular blender. Taste and season with 1 teaspoon salt and several grinds of black pepper, or as desired (the salt content of vegetable broth will vary by brand).
4. Stir in the carrot, fennel and remaining onion and celery. Continue to simmer gently until the vegetables are tender, 20 to 25 minutes, stirring frequently. About 10 minutes before the vegetables are tender, stir in the beans to warm. Taste and adjust the seasoning as desired. This makes about 4 quarts soup, and will keep for up to 1 week, covered and refrigerated.
Each of 16 servings: 177 calories; 5 grams protein; 32 grams carbohydrates; 7 grams fiber; 4 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 8 mg cholesterol; 6 grams sugar; 539 mg sodium.
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