Monday, June 7, 2010

Cannellini Beans And Leek Soup

humble in appearance, yet rich in character

When I was growing up my parents had a boat. We spent a lot of time on the water, either fishing for calico seabass in the the kelp near San Onofre, chasing yellowtail off the Coronados Islands or trawling for marlin in open water. There were three fish that were often used for bait – mackerel, anchovies and sardines. These fish were used for catching other fish and the thought of actually eating one of the smelly, oily things was a joke.

     Fast forward 20 years and I’m in Santa Monica Seafood, looking at the over-priced fish. I see some sardines, think about an article I read on their growing popularity, and thought what the heck. Let’s try this. Even at $15.99(!) a pound I was willing to give it a shot. I marinated the fillets, grilled them and was able to endure about two bites. So disgusting. Friends, sardines are bait and not for eating.

     Saddened by the cooking disaster, I put together a simple soup and was quite happy with the goodness that ensued. You can prepare this soup in just under an hour. Serve it with bread and a salad and you will have a nice lunch or dinner that costs less than a pound of slimy, reeking sardines. I promise.

Cannellini Beans And Leek Soup

5 or 6 cups

2 cups (16 oz.) cannellini beans
1 cup chopped leeks (white and light green parts from one small leek)
32 oz. chicken stock (see notes)
1 cup red onion, chopped
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 sprigs thyme, minced
1 bay leaf
Salt and p epper to taste
Sliced chives for garnish

1. Drain and rinse beans.

2. In a large saucepan with 2 teaspoons of olive oil and butter, saute leeks, garlic and onions over low heat for about 10-20 minutes or until onions are transparent.

3. Add beans, stock, thyme and bay leaf. Simmer for 30 minutes.

4. Remove bay leaf, season with salt and pepper. Garnish with chives.

This dish can be turned into a vegetarian dish by substituting vegetable stock for the chicken stock.

My dad, Craig, showing off a big Calico in 1993.


  1. As a kid, I used to like canned sardines in mustard, but haven't tasted them in many, many years.

  2. I like this recipe a lot. I'll be testing soon. Thanks!!

  3. It's really nice. For such a quick to make soup, I was surprised at the flavors. You can substitute your favorite bean - great northern, cannellini, kidney, black eyed pea - until you find a flavor you like best. :)