I’d been eyeing the quart of (regional and organic) cannellini beans that I made a while ago and froze, wondering what to make with it. Like canned beans, they were too mushy to be served whole so I decided on a pureed soup, transformed by the addition of chopped onion slowly cooked with a thick strip of smoky bacon. I added a little water to get the soup to the desired consistency. Separately, I made pesto of raw dandelion leaves from our lawn, pureeing them in a food processor with olive oil, salt and garlic. First, I garnished the soup with the pesto and liked it so much that I added in quite a lot. The slight bite of the greens and the bacon perked up the smooth and mild beans to make a satisfying Saturday soup.
White Bean Soup with Bacon and Dandelion Pesto
1 thick strip of smoky bacon, chopped
1 onion, chopped
4 c cooked white kidney or cannellini beans, with liquid (or two 14.5-oz cans)
Water as needed
1 c dandelion leaves, washed
2 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp salt
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook the bacon until it has rendered its fat and turned brown. Add the onions and cook slowly until translucent. Add the beans and their liquid and cook until the flavors are well combined, about 15 minutes. Add water as needed. Puree the soup in a food processor or with an immersion blender, adding more water to reach the desired consistency.
Meanwhile, place the dandelion leaves in a food processor, add olive oil, salt and garlic and process until well pureed. (I leave mine a little chunky and I use less oil than most people do.) Stir the pesto into the soup and add salt (if needed) and pepper to taste.