Tuscan White Bean Soup with Mushrooms and Fennel

Growing up of Italian heritage I have wonderful memories of my mother making all kinds of soup with beans, white beans, black beans, lentils, all different varieties. My mother taught me to layer my soups, you could say marry the different ingredients that just compliment each other for a deliciously flavorful satisfying soup. When I wanted to make a vegetarian white bean soup I added fennel and mushrooms to compliment the beans, shallots and garlic for flavor, plus giving more substance to the soup making it a nice light meal. This soup is perfect for a cold winter day, filling and warming!

Tuscan White Bean Soup with Mushroom and Fennel
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 shallots, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 bulb fennel, chopped
8 oz white button mushrooms, chopped
1 sage leaf
3 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans drained and rinsed
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 vegetable bullion cube
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 slices french baguette
Extra olive oil, for drizzling

Place a medium, heavy soup pot over medium heat. Add olive oil, garlic and shallot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they are softened, about 5 minutes. Add fennel and mushrooms cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add the sage and beans: stir to combine. Add the stock, wine, vegetable bullion cube and water bring the mixture to a simmer.  Continue to simmer for 20 minutes.  Keep warm, covered, over very low heat.
Place a grill pan over medium-high heat. Drizzle the slices of ciabatta bread with extra-virgin olive oil. Grill the bread until warm and golden grill marks appear, about 3 minutes a side. Serve the soup in bowls with the grilled bread alongside.



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