This hearty Tuscan bread and bean soup is an ideal winter meal. Long slow cooking is ideal. When you are using the finest quality organic ingredients you are also assured best nutrition and deliciousness. This recipe makes enough to feed at least 12 – I suggest you make a big pot and freeze what you don’t eat.
2 cups dried cannellini beans soaked overnight in tepid water to which you have added a squeeze of lemon juice. (This makes them more nutritious and digestible).
Rinse them well then cover in cold water and bring to a simmer in an open pot. Do not add salt as it inhibits the beans from cooking.
Remove any scum as it rises and simmer the beans until they are just tender, leave them in their cooking water and set aside (or use 2 tins of organic cannellini beans, rinsed well)
You will need:
¼ cup olive oil
2 red onions finely diced
2 leeks chopped finely and well washed
6 cloves garlic, crushed and roughly chopped
1 teaspoon freshly chopped rosemary
½ teaspoon dried oregano
2 medium size carrots medium diced
2 young celery stalks medium diced
6 ripe Roma tomatoes blanched, peeled, seeded and diced (or as it is winter you may find a tin of tomatoes offers more flavour)
3 litres chicken or vegetable stock, enough to keep the vegetables covered
coarse Celtic sea salt to taste
1 bunch of cavolo nero -black leaf kale, or, a ¼ Savoy cabbage finely sliced
2 yellow or green zucchini diced small
coarse ground black pepper to taste
½ loaf of ciabbta (crusty-wood fired bread), torn into rough chunks
Use a large heavy based pot to ensure slow even cooking
Place the pot on a low to medium heat
Add the olive oil
Add the onions and sauté until they are translucent and beginning to brown (approximately 5 minutes)
Add the leeks and allow to soften
Add the garlic and the chopped herbs, cook gently for a minute then add the carrots, celery, and tomatoes, stir to combine
Pour in the cooked or tinned cannellini beans
Pour in enough stock to cover well, season with sea salt to taste
Cover and simmer gently for approximately one hour
Remove the lid and add the cavolo nero or cabbage and the zucchini
Cook until these are just tender approx 5 minutes
Taste and re-season as required add the black pepper and remove from the heat to serve.
A good pinch of continental parsley each bowl
Extra virgin olive oil, to taste. Frantoio is a Tuscan varietal of olive that grows particularly well in the cool climate and altitude of NSW Cental Ranges it provides a versatile grassy flavoured, moderate oil that is well suited to this dish.
Pour the soup into warmed bowls and top with bread and parsley
Now pour your preferred Extra virgin olive oil over the top and serve.