Is it still soup weather where you live?
I live in Florida so I no longer know how to think of soup weather, or football weather, or any other kind of non-warm weather.
What you do learn from living in Florida, is that if you want to have soup, you can either wait for the occasional blessedly cool day, OR you can just turn on the AC and make soup anyway.
Tuscan Bean Soup is a new one for me. When I want beans I usually make ham and navy bean soup or white bean chicken chili but when I discovered this soup and saw that it had kale in it (my new found vegetable friend), I thought I’d give it a try.
You can make it more authentically Tuscan by adding some chopped pancetta and chicken stock, but since I was going for light and veggie, I used vegetable stock.
Here’s what you need:
Great Northern White Beans, Kale, Carrots, Celery, Onions, Garlic, Rosemary, Thyme, Bay Leaves, Red Pepper Flakes, Parmesan/Romano Cheese Rind*, White Wine, Vegetable Stock, Olive Oil (not pictured), Water (not pictured), Tomato Paste, Salt & Pepper.
Beans…..I just can’t ever remember to soak them ahead of time. When I DO remember, I always tell myself that they are so much better and hold their shape better and from NOW ON I will always pre-soak my beans and blah, blah, blah…it just doesn’t happen.
So, you can pre-cook the beans by putting them in a pot with water just to cover the beans. Bring them to a boil, turn the heat down to low, cover and simmer for 45 – 60 minutes.
If you do this right at the beginning of your cooking process, they should be ready to join the soup when you get all of the other ingredients assembled. OR, you can also just dump the dried beans into the soup but know that you will have to double the cooking time to about 2 hours to get the beans tender.
It’s soup, so there is a bit of chopping to do. Chop up 2 onions, 3 carrots, and 1 rib of celery. I didn’t measure but you want about twice as many onions as carrots and about twice as much carrots as celery.
I love carrots so I actually added a fourth carrot to boost their numbers a bit.
Heat 1-2 Tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat in a large soup pot. Add the onions, carrots, and celery and saute for about 10 minutes.
Finely chop 4-5 big cloves of garlic and add them to the sauteed veggies.
Add 1/2 cup of dry white wine to the pot.
For some great flavor, toss in a big fresh sprig of rosemary, a few sprigs of thyme, a bay leaf, and a generous pinch of red pepper flakes.
If you want to be “proper” about things, you should technically tie your herbs together in a little bunch called a “bouquet garni”. That way you can just remove the little bundle when the soup has finished cooking. OR you can toss them in like I do and fish out the little stalks from the herbs later. You can also play the family fun game “Whoever Gets the Bayleaf Wins a Prize”. Or not.
Take the rind from a piece of good Parmesan or Romano Cheese and add it to the pot. *If your cheese has a little label with the name of the cheese stuck to it, BE SURE to remove it before adding it to the pot or you will be searching throughout your soup for partially cooked cheese label later. Most of the time, the cheese rind completely dissolves as the soup cooks.
Add 4 cups of vegetable stock
and 2 cups of water.
Bring the soup to a boil and cook. If you are using dried beans (unsoaked) add them right away as they will take about 2 hours to cook. If you have “quick cooked” the beans in a separate pot, drain them from their cooking liquid and add them when they are semi-tender, continuing to cook for about 20 more minutes. By the way, you can also use canned beans. Just be sure to drain and rinse them before adding them to the soup.
I realize that all of these bean options are a little confusing. Remember, they’re just beans…fairly idiot-proof….just cook the soup until the beans are almost tender.
While the beans cook, remove the tough inner stem from a bunch of kale.
Chop the kale into big pieces and add it to the pot. You can really pack the pot full of kale since it shrinks as it cooks.
Cook for 10 more minutes or until the beans are completely tender and the kale has wilted. To give the broth a little more oomph, add 2 Tablespoons of tomato paste. Season to taste with salt & pepper.
Ladle the soup into big bowls and garnish with a few shavings of Parmesan Cheese.
Be sure to have some nice crusty bread for dipping. This recipe makes 6-8 very generous servings and like almost all soups, it’s even better leftover.
Here’s the recipe: