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Tuscan Cannellini Bean Soup with Parmesan Toasts
Tuscan Cannellini Bean Soup with Parmesan Toasts Photo courtesy of Jake Gartland

Culinary power couple Elizabeth Blau and Kim Canteenwalla are pros at serving high-rolling diners at glitzy restaurants on the Las Vegas Strip (he was the chef at the fancy-schmancy Society Café; she runs a prominent restaurant development company). But at their new spot, Honey Salt, the pair is gambling that locals will prefer comfort food to caviar. Unpretentious, warming dishes comprise the menu, but we’re partial to this cozy Tuscan soup that brims with tender vegetables and big cannellini beans.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 Parmesan rind

1 bay leaf

6 basil stems, leaves removed

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 yellow onion, finely chopped

½ medium carrot, peeled and finely chopped

½ fennel bulb, trimmed and finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

2½ cups low-sodium or homemade vegetable stock or broth

1½ cups whole canned tomatoes, roughly chopped

⅓ pound black kale (also called lacinato or dinosaur kale), stems removed and roughly chopped

4 to 6 thin baguette slices

Finely grated Parmesan cheese, for the toasts

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Two 15.5-ounce cans cannellini beans (preferably low-sodium), rinsed and drained

1. Tie up the Parmesan rind, bay leaf and basil stems in a cheesecloth bag. Set aside.

2. In a large pot set over medium heat, warm 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the onion, carrot, fennel and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and slightly browned, about 8 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400˚.

3. Add the vegetable stock and 2 cups water to the pot and bring the mixture to a simmer. Add the reserved cheesecloth bag to the soup and reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the tomatoes and kale, cover and cook until the kale softens, about 5 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, brush the baguette slices with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with the Parmesan, salt and pepper. Arrange the slices on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until the bread is golden brown and the cheese melts, about 8 minutes.

5. While the bread toasts, add the beans to the soup and cook until warmed through, about 3 minutes. Remove and discard the cheesecloth bag. Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper, then divide among four or six bowls. Serve immediately, garnished with the toasts.

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