One of the many things I love about going to the Farmers' Market, is finding unusual vegetables you can't find in the supermarkets. I got this Cavolo Nero, a.k.a Tuscan Kale, a.k.a. Dinosaur Kale, a.k.a. Black Cabbage (I love the first name most; makes a vegetable sound posh.) With that, I decided to make a hearty bean soup for the winter nights. You can use any type of bean, or even a mix, it originally calls for canellini beans, which are the normal shaped/sized white beans you see, but I had butter beans. They're giant!
Compare: Red adzuki bean v.s. Black bean v.s. Butter bean
Tuscan bean soup is traditional Italian peasant fare, so even though I've seen many recipes adding a bit of bacon or pancetta here and there for more flavour, I've decided to keep this really cheap and simple and rustic.
Tuscan Butter Bean Soup
2 large onions, chopped
2 sticks of celery, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped (original recipes call for canned but I didn't have any)
1 cup butter beans, soaked overnight and rinsed
1 large head of tuscan kale, chopped into bite-sized pieces
4 cups chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1 tsp of dried thyme (or 3 sprigs thyme)
1 tsp of dried oregano (or 1 sprig oregano)
2-3 tbspsextra virgin olive oil
salt, black pepper
1. Place the beans in a pot, bring to a boil, and let it simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours till just soft, but not mushy.
2. In a large pot, over medium heat, saute the onions, carrot and celery until onions just turn translucent.
3. Add the garlic and the tomatoes, cook until tomatoes cook down.
4. Add the herbs, then the stock, then the beans and the bean cooking liquid if necessary.
5. Cook for another half an hour, before adding the kale, and cooking another 20 min or so until the beans and kale are both tender.
6. Serve with shavings of parmesan (opt) on top.
This soup keeps really well, in fact it gets better the day after. The peasants used to make enough to last 3 days, they reboil on day 2 with a bit of bread, and then on day 3, they reboil again with the stale bread which thickens the soup and gives a thick thick hearty stew called ribollita. I wish I left enough to try how that will work out.