Recipe: Tuscan vegetable and bread soup

Tuscan Vegetable and Bread Soup
Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients:

  • 2 heaping cups/14 ounces/400g dried Cannellini beans or white kidney or Great Northern
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 small bunch of sage leaves
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil plus more to garnish
  • 2 red or yellow onions, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1 leek, white part only, thinly sliced and rinsed well under cold running water
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds
  • 2 celery stalks, trimmed and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed lightly and peeled
  • Few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste or 4 plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 pound/455g black leaf kale (Tuscan black cabbage) or red cabbage, washed and chopped into ½ inch strips (about 8 cups)
  • ½ pound/225g Savoy cabbage, washed and shredded into ½ inch strips (about 4 cups)
  • 1 bunch chard weighing about ½ pound, washed and green leaves only chopped into ½ inch strips (about 4 cups)
  • 2 large Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and chopped into ½ dice
  • 8 ounces/225g hardened two-day-old rustic Italian bread (preferably Tuscan) cut into ½-inch slices
  • 1 red onion, peeled and finely sliced or chopped for garnish
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Preparation:
  1. Sift through the dried beans to pick out and discard any small stones. Place the beans in a large bowl and cover with twice the volume of cold water. Let soak for 12 hours or overnight.

  2. Drain the beans and place in a large pot, preferably made of glazed terracotta. Add 2½ quarts/2½ liters cold water, 2 garlic cloves, bunch of sage leaves and 2 tablespoons olive oil.

  3. Place over medium heat, covered, and bring to a simmer. Skim off the foam that forms on the surface of the water. Cover with lid slightly askew, reduce heat to low and cook at a gentle simmer for about 50 minutes.

  4. Add 2 teaspoons salt and cook for another 10 minutes until beans are soft to the bite.

  5. Scoop half of the beans out of the pot and reserve whole. Discard the garlic and sage and puree the remaining beans with the cooking liquid using an emersion blender or food processor. Set aside.

  6. Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a large heavy bottomed pot. Add the onions and leeks, season lightly with salt, and cook until softened or about 5 minutes. Stir in the carrots and celery and cook for a few more minutes.

  7. Add the garlic, thyme and tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Add the cabbage, chard and potatoes into the pot and season the vegetables well with salt and pepper, stirring to mix well. Cook the vegetables for 10 minutes until they soften and reduce in volume.

  8. Add the pureed beans with their liquid and enough hot water to cover the vegetables. Bring to a boil then reduce to a gentle simmer and cook slowly, partially covered, for one hour. Stir occasionally during the cooking time and add more water if it becomes too dry although the soup should be fairly thick.

  9. Add the whole beans during the last 5 minutes of cooking. The vegetable soup can be eaten, as is, the day it is made. Layer the leftover soup with the slices of stale bread in a large pot and let stand for a couple of hours or refrigerate overnight.

  10. The next day drizzle the soup generously with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with sliced red onion and freshly grated black pepper.

  11. Bake in a 400°F oven for 30 minutes until a light crust forms or re-boil on the stove to heat through. The third day re-boil the soup while stirring well to break up the bread in a soup will be so thick a spoon will stand up in it.

  12. Serve with fruity extra virgin olive oil drizzled on top.
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About Deborah Dal Fovo:

An accomplished Chef and authority on the fine art of Italian living, Deborah Dal Fovo mastered her culinary education in Italian food and wine hands-on from some of Italy's finest and most renowned chefs, winemakers and food producers.

Her formal culinary studies include classic training at French Master Chef Roger Vergé's legendary cooking school in Mougins, France.

Deborah's love of food and cooking began at home in her Northern Italian-American household inspiring her to return to Italy where she lived in both Milan and Tuscany for 20 years while traveling extensively throughout Italy cultivating the country's diverse regional flavors and culinary traditions.

A dual citizen of Italy and the United States, Deborah now lives primarily in Northern California and shares her vast Italian experience as a Private Chef, Cooking Instructor, Italian Lifestyle expert and an enthusiastic Italian ambassador of good taste.

Deborah Dal Fovo teaches authentic Italian Cooking classes at Draeger's, Ramekins, Sur la Table, Relish, VIVA cooking schools and her own private cooking schools in the San Francisco Bay Area. Deborah appears frequently on TV and DVD shows as guest chef and Italian cooking expert.

For more information, visit www.deborahdalfovo.com

About Ribolita:

Born out of necessity and the inspired creativity of savvy cooks, "la cucina povera" or "poor" peasant cooking of Tuscany has produced some of the region's most iconic dishes.

Perhaps the most popular, "Ribollita" which literally means "re-boiled", gives new life to yesterday's vegetable soup with the addition of day-old bread and fruity olive oil to transform natural goodness into a humble yet hearty and satisfying meal.

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