White Bean Soup
- 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for brushing
- 1/4 cup chopped pancetta
- 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
- 12 baguette slices, each 4 inches long and 1/2 inch thick
- 1 cup jarred roasted red bell peppers
- 2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 tsp. sherry vinegar
- 1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp. honey
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. 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. 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.
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. Keep the soup warm.
Meanwhile, brush the baguette slices on both sides with olive oil and season lightly with salt. Heat a cast-iron grill pan over medium-high heat. Toast the bread, turning once, until nicely grill-marked, about 2 minutes per side. Set aside.
In the blending cup of an immersion blender, chop the roasted red bell peppers. Stir in 1/2 tsp. salt, the remaining 2 Tbs. olive oil, the parsley, vinegar, red pepper flakes, honey and black pepper. Top the baguette slices with the roasted red bell pepper tapenade, dividing evenly. Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and serve immediately with the crostini. Serves 6.