As much as I absolutely adore utilizing fresh produce plucked directly from the vine in my meal preparations, I cannot tell you how much I also appreciate having nutritious and delicious short-cuts at my fingertips when it comes to preparing a home-made, love-filled meal that will satisfy not only my belly, but my loved one’s bellies at the end of a long, busy day, whenever I possibly can.
Preparing from-scratch meals that have simple and vibrant ingredients is a wonderful way to share me (my love) with the important people in my life, while also exercising my own colorful creativity and desire to nurture and nourish another’s soul.
And the most deeply satisfying meals certainly need not be time-consuming and complicated; they just need to be filled with quality, whole ingredients, plus liberal dashes of care and love.
Canned foods such as tomatoes and beans are truly among my most favorite items to use in my cooking when I’m looking for rich flavor combined with optimal ease.
I always have multiple cans of a variety of different styles of tomatoes, along with cans of various types of beans in my kitchen pantry—so convenient!
Truth is, I cannot imagine preparing a savory, red pasta sauce, or a summer-inspired rich tomato-basil soup without using a couple heaping spoonfuls of tangy tomato paste plus juicy and slightly sweet canned whole, diced, or crushed tomatoes.
You simply can’t get the same intensely deep tomato flavor from fresh tomatoes in preparations such as these, and you’ll also miss out on the unique health benefits that canned tomato products have.
Heard of lycopene?
Canned tomato products are filled with this good stuff, more so than fresh tomatoes are, believe it or not.
I was amazed to find out that there is up to four times the amount of bioavailable lycopene, an antioxidant and cancer-fighting agent, in tomato paste than in fresh tomatoes (source: Lycocard)—that’s a pretty great side benefit, I’d say!
And of course when it comes to beans, canned beans, for me, are simply the quickest way to have a no-hassle experience when a recipe calls for them.
I just prefer to avoid having to go through the whole soaking-overnight process, then cooking for several hours, or needing to use a pressure cooker to get them softened and recipe-ready.
Canned beans offer a uniformity in texture and flavor, plus are ready to use straight out of the can once rinsed, which is what I prefer since they’re a fiber-rich addition to soups, salads, as well as perfect for thick and creamy dips.
And that’s why we’re partnering with Cans Get You Cooking, to share this deliciously simple, comforting, and nutritious recipe for a savory Summer Tomato-Basil Soup with White Beans, Crispy Pancetta and Spinach, and to remind you that canned vegetables, fruits and beans/legumes can be a great option for your healthful home cooking, as well as great short-cuts that’ll save you a little time that can be spent loving on your loved ones, for one thing!
Less fuss, less muss!
And that’s always a welcome thing, isn’t it?
It’s “can-do” cooking, full of heart and soul and good-for-you ingredients, which is something that I think we can all get behind.
Taste what’s good and pass it on.
Summer Tomato-Basil Soup with White Beans, Crispy Pancetta and Spinach
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves 4-6
• Olive oil
• 4 ounces finely diced pancetta
• 1 onion, diced
• 5 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
• Black pepper
• Pinch red pepper flakes
• 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning (or dried “herbs of Italy”)
• 2 tablespoons, heaping, tomato paste
• 1 (28 ounce) can San Marzano style whole tomatoes (with or without basil)
• 4 cups chicken stock
• 2 ounces fresh basil leaves (stems removed)
• 1 cup small croutons (garlic, butter, or other flavoring is fine)
• Pinch sugar (optional)
• 2 (15 ½ ounce) cans white beans, drained and rinsed
• 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
• 2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
• Shaved parmesan, for garnish
-Add a little drizzle of olive oil into a medium-large pot set over medium-high heat; once the oil is hot, add in the diced pancetta, and allow it to crisp as you would bacon, until golden-brown; using a slotted spoon, remove the pancetta from the pan and place it on a paper towel-lined plate to hold.
-Into the pancetta drippings in the pot add the diced onion, and saute it for about 3-5 minutes, or until slightly golden and softened; add in the garlic, along with a pinch or two of salt and black pepper, plus the red pepper flakes, and stir to incorporate.
-Once the garlic becomes aromatic (about 30 seconds or so), add in the tomato paste, and allow it to saute with the mixture for a moment or two.
-Add in the canned whole tomatoes (with juices), the chicken stock, the fresh basil leaves, and the croutons, and stir to combine; bring the soup to a vigorous simmer, then reduce the heat to low and simmer gently, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
-Puree the soup using a hand-held immersion blender (or a regular blender, in batches); add in a pinch of sugar (if desired), and add back into the pot the pancetta, as well as the canned white beans, the chopped parsley, and the baby spinach, and stir to combine, allowing the spinach leaves to sort of wilt into the hot soup.
-Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with a little drizzle of olive oil and a few shavings of parmesan, and serve.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Albertsons & Safeway. The opinions and text are all mine.