Sunday, October 19, 2014

Budget-Friendly #SundaySupper...Featuring Comforting White Bean-Pancetta Soup

This week, #SundaySupper is focusing on budget-friendly recipes that taste great and are easy on your wallet. With the holiday season fast approaching, it's good to have a collection of recipes that are inexpensive to make. It seems there are millions of extra expenses between Halloween and New Year's Eve! Our hosts for this week's event are T.R. of Gluten Free Crumbley and David from Cooking Chat. My recipe for Comforting White Bean-Pancetta Soup is a perfect Fall budget-stretching meal. It only costs about $12 for the ingredients to make a pot of soup that serves 4-6 hungry people! I always have a can or two of beans in my pantry, because they're a versatile, inexpensive source of protein and fiber. 

This hearty Italian soup is perfect for chilly Fall evenings. It contains white beans, aromatic vegetables, tomatoes, a pinch of red pepper for a little bit of spice, and lots of flavorful Italian herbs. Just before serving, each bowl is topped with cooked diced pancetta and a sprinkle of freshly grated parmesan cheese. All you need to complete the meal is a green salad and some garlic bread. This soup is made with simple ingredients and is ready in less than an hour, making it perfect for busy weeknights.

Comforting White Bean-Pancetta Soup
adapted from Fine Cooking 

  • 1 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 ounces small-diced pancetta 
  • 1/2 white onion, diced 
  • 1 medium carrot, diced 
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 2  garlic cloves, finely minced or grated
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbs. finely chopped basil
  • 1 tsp. finely chopped oregano
  • 1 tbs. finely chopped Italian parsley
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 14-oz. can petite diced tomatoes, well drained
  • 4 cups good-quality chicken stock
  • Parmesan rind (optional)
  • 2 15-oz. cans white beans, rinsed and drained 
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Step 1: Add the olive oil to a Dutch oven over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the pancetta and cook until browned and crispy. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the pancetta to a paper-towel lined plate. Set aside. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic to the Dutch oven. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened -- about 8 minutes. Add the basil, oregano, parsley, red pepper flakes, and salt & pepper to taste.
Step 2: Add the drained white beans and diced tomatoes to the Dutch oven. Add the chicken stock, bay leaves, and parmesan rind (if using). Raise the heat to med-high and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. 
Step 3: After the soup has cooked, remove the bay leaves and parmesan rind (if using). Ladle the soup into serving bowls. Just before serving, sprinkle each bowl with 2 tbs. of the parmesan and some of the reserved cooked pancetta. Serve with warm bread on the side. I especially like toasted garlic bread.
This soup may be inexpensive to make, but you'd never know it based on how good it tastes! The creamy white beans, aromatic vegetables, and parmesan work so nicely together. The red pepper flakes impart a subtle heat that I really enjoyed. And the pancetta? Its meaty flavor permeates the broth, and the little bits of cooked pancetta sprinkled on top provide a crunchy-salty punch of flavor. This is my kind of dish: easy to make, tons of flavor...and easy on the grocery budget too! 

Be sure to take a look at all of the great inexpensive recipes that the rest of the #SundaySupper participants are sharing today. We've got everything from budget-stretching dinners to sweet treats and snacks. Check out this great list of mouthwatering recipes:

Scrumptious Mains (Breakfast and Dinner)
Satisfying Sides
Sweet Treat
Sips, Spreads, and Snacks
    Sunday Supper Movement Be sure to join the #SundaySupper conversation on Twitter later today! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly live chat starts at 6:00 pm CST this evening. Simply follow the #SundaySupper hashtag -- and remember to include it in your tweets to join in on the lively0 chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, be sure to visit our website or check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest boardWould you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

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