Bean Soup from Tuscany
Serves 4 – 6
• 1 cup (dried) cannelloni(tuscan white beans) or Great Northern beans
• 1 head of cavolo nero (black-leaf kale) (or 1/4 head green cabbage, 6 or more Brussels sprouts, etc.) shredded (sliced very thinly)
• 1/4 head of Savoy cabbage – shredded
• 1 bunch of Swiss chard – shredded
• 1 leek – chopped fine
• 1 onion – chopped fine
• 1 large carrot – chopped fine
• 1 large celery stalk including leaves – chopped fine
• 2 peeled plum tomatoes, ripe or canned – diced
• 2 cloves garlic, chopped fine (optional)
• 1/2 dried hot chili pepper (optional)
• 2 potatoes (optional) – diced
• 2 zucchini (optional) – diced
• 2 – 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (use more if you like)
• 1/2 tsp dried rosemary, or leaves from one fresh sprig, chopped fine (optional)
• 1/2 tsp dried or fresh oregano (optional)
• salt and pepper
• Italian or French bread one or two days old (optional variation)
• Water – enough to cover and add
1. Soak the beans in plenty of water for 8 hours or over night. Drain and rinse.
2. In a large heavy pan, saute chopped onion, carrot, celery, leek, garlic and chili pepper, stirring often until the onion has turned color (about ten minutes, depending on the heat) in olive oil.
3. Add the tomatoes, cabbage and the beans, more olive oil if you wish, and stir well to mix the ingredients. Add rosemary/oregano, a pinch of salt and ground black pepper to taste and mix again. Add enough water to cover the ingredients by about 1/4 inch.
4. Bring to a very slow simmer and cook, covered, for about 1 ½ hours or until the beans start to soften.
5. Add water as necessary to keep the ingredients just covered. (for a ‘soupier’ soup, keep the water level a bit higher).
6. Add diced potatoes/zucchini (you can also do this on the following day if there is soup left over, to give it a new taste) – cook for another hour, until potatoes are cooked. Longer cooking softens the ingredients and blends them more.
• The soup can stand for a few hours in a cool kitchen and be re-heated for the meal. The longer it lingers, the better it gets.
• Lightly toast the French or Italian bread and put a slice at the bottom of each soup bowl before ladling in the soup.
• A tablespoon of good olive oil on top of each serving.
• Prepare a ‘soffrito’ – sautee some onion, carrot, celery a minced clove of garlic in olive oil in a separate pan and stir in to the soup at about a half hour before serving. After adding the ‘soffrito’ some recipes call for thinly slicing a red onion on top of the soup, then putting the cooking vessel, uncovered, in the oven at 350 degrees F. for about a half hour before serving.
• Make a puree of the half of the souyp and strain and return back to the soup makes soup more thicker.