Cannellini Bean Soup with Fontina Gremolata

Cannellini Bean Soup with Fontina Gremolata

I owe a debt of gratitude for this soup to Chef Jules, owner of a now sadly defunct food blog called Gourmet A Go-Go. Not only a kind person, Chef Jules is a wonderful chef and shared this wonderfully elegant and creamy cannellini bean soup with a Fontina cheese, lemon and thyme gremolata. I tinkered with some of the ingredients from his original recipe — substituting fresh spinach for carrot, and a handful of dried red chilies instead of half a fresh one to give it a little extra kick. I wouldn't be at all embarrassed to serve this rich, attractive and delicious soup to anyone on any occasion. I dished this up with some arancini for a thoroughly satisfying meal. A purist would strain the puréed soup through a fine sieve, as Chef Jules had suggested, to give it a perfect creaminess, but I suppose I'm not really a purist, and I would hate to have lost those little green flecks of spinach besides.

I should add that this was the first time I've ever tried a gremolata, since they're more often made as a topping for Italian veal dishes, but it won't be the last. Gremolata would be a nice garnish for a variety of soups and even a nice topping for slices of crusty bread brushed with some olive oil and toasted under the broiler.

Cannellini Bean Soup with Fontina GremolataCannellini Bean Soup with Fontina Gremolata
Recipe by
Cuisine: Italian
Published on March 16, 2008

Simple, rich, creamy and elegant cannellini and tomato soup dressed with a Fontina, lemon and thyme gremolata

Preparation: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes

Print this recipePrint this recipe

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 14 oz cans cannellini (white kidney) beans (3 cups cooked)
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 dried whole red chilies, crumbled
  • 2 black cardamom pods, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 5 1/2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup fresh baby spinach leaves, lightly packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup Fontina cheese, very finely grated
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • Melt the butter in a large saucepan or medium soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic, and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes, until softened. Toss in the beans, tomatoes and dried chilies. Cover and cook gently for 5 minutes. Stir in the cardamom pods and cumin seeds along with the vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  • Remove from heat and purée the soup with a hand blender or in a countertop blender until smooth. Return to the heat and add the spinach. Cook for just 2 to 3 minutes until the spinach is lightly wilted. Remove from heat, and purée once again with the hand blender, this time just until the spinach is finely chopped. Add the salt and pepper, taste for seasoning, and return to a very low simmer until serving.

  • For the gremolata, mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and scatter over freshly ladled bowls of warm soup.

Makes 4 to 6 servings
Cannellini Bean Soup with Fontina Gremolata


Jacqueline Meldrum said...

This looks good Lisa. You are becoming the soup queen! I am getting into the idea of toppings for soup after seeing everyone's entries for this month's No Croutons Required!

test it comm said...

This does sound good! I like the idea of blending the cannellini beans. That would make for a nice and creamy soup.

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

I'd eat 2 bowls of this at the Festa Italiana Lisa:D

Lisa Turner said...

This soup was positively delicious. Another recipe highly recommended from my kitchen.

Lucy said...

Yes, well, you had me at 'fontina gremolata'...

Can't wait for the baked rice balls.

Lovely additions to the original.

Proud Italian Cook said...

This looks so creamy and delicious! a great addition to our Festa Italiana table. Thank you so much for joining us!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful dish! Thanks for joining our Festa Italiana :)

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a fabulous mix of flavors, textures and spice. I've never made a gremolata--but I want to, now. And look forward to the rice balls!

Meeta K. Wolff said...

I love beans and am always looking for inspiring ideas to use them. This has a great combination of flavors. A must!

Neen said...

Wow. I'm impressed. I've been feeling uninspired lately in terms of vegetarian eats, having had several dissapointments recently, but this soup may be the much-needed cure for my winter blues. Thanks for cheering up my week!

Johanna GGG said...

this looks fantastic - I love the idea of an interesting garnish for a soup (and an excuse to make gremolata - which I haven't made before either) and the spinch flecks in the soup give some nice colour too