This soup is tailored from Tenuta di Spannocchia’s “Minestra di Riso e Ceci” (or “Rice and Chick Pea Soup”). I scribbled down the script during a quick conversation with their culinary residents then came home to off-script it consistent with my memory and whim. My version uses cannellini beans rather than chickpeas—both are delicious. I imagine I also use more liberal quantities of rosemary, wine, and seasonings (I tend to love more robust flavor). The seared shrimp may be a wonderful addition. Makes the soup a meal.
TUSCAN WHITE BEAN & RICE SOUP WITH SEARED SHRIMP
4 to 6
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 medium leek, thinly sliced (white and light green parts only)
2.5-3 tsp. kosher salt, divided
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1.5 c. dry white wine (something you would also drink)
4-5 c. low-sodium chicken broth, divided
2 14-16 oz. cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary leaves
2/3 c. long-grain white rice, thoroughly rinsed (see TIP A below)
Seared Shrimp & Campari Tomatoes for Topping (Optional):
16-18 peeled and de-veined uncooked medium shrimp (tails on or off, your choice)
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/8 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
3 tbsp. olive oil
2 medium garlic cloves, halved
3-4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
2-3 small, sweet tomatoes like Campari, chopped or cut into wedges
One: Sauté the Onion & Leek:
Warm the olive oil in a large stock pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the chopped onion, leek, and 1 teaspoon salt (reserve remaining salt). Cook, stirring frequently, for 3-4 minutes or until soft and translucent.
Add the tomato paste to the pot and let cook for an additional 30-60 seconds. Then stir in the wine, 4 cups chicken broth (reserve remaining broth), beans, rosemary, and remaining 1.5 teaspoons salt. Bring to a gentle boil then immediately reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer for 10 minutes.
Three: Blend Half of the Soup:
After 10 minutes, use an immersion blender directly in the pot and blend about half of the soup. Work in short bursts and attempt to keep about half of the beans, onions, and leeks whole. Alternatively, you could scoop half of the soup (about 4 cups total) into the jar of a traditional blender and whir until smooth. (Work in batches if needed and cover the top of the blender with a towel to prevent overflow.) When done, return the blended soup to the pot with the un-blended portion.
Four: Add the Rice & Finish Cooking:
Bring the mixture back up to a gentle boil and add the rice. Stir briefly and then immediately reduce the heat to low. Partially cover the pot, and let the soup simmer gently for 15-20 minutes to cook the rice. Check periodically and add remaining 1 cup chicken broth and additional salt if needed. Be careful not to overcook the rice.
Five: Season & Sear the Shrimp (Optional):
With about 6-7 minutes remaining for the soup, season the shrimp (both sides) with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper. Set aside. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil and the halved garlic cloves to a large, flat, high-sided skillet over medium heat. Bring oil up to temperature (wait for the garlic to sizzle), then add the shrimp and rosemary sprigs in a single layer around the pan. Cook the shrimp about 2 minutes per side until slightly crispy and pink throughout. When done, immediately remove the seared shrimp and crispy rosemary sprigs from the pan.
Six: Finish & Serve:
Ladle the finished soup into 4-6 bowls and top each with a few seared shrimp, some bits of crispy fried rosemary, and wedges or chunks of fresh Campari tomato (if desired). Serve additional tomatoes and crispy rosemary on the side. Any leftover soup (without shrimp or tomato topping) can be stored in the fridge, but will likely resemble risotto vs. soup on day two. It is equally delicious like this!
TIP A: For this recipe, you want to use a rice that cooks in 20 minutes or less. Most long-grain white rice varieties like jasmine and basmati work well. I do not recommend using brown rice as the cook-time and liquid-to-rice ratio differs significantly.