Tuscan Bean Soup

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Makes 8 as a Starter, 6 as an Entree

 

1½ cup dried borlotti, cranberry, red kidney, pinto or white beans (or any combination of beans)

3 quarts cold water

3 large Idaho baking Potatoes, peeled, cut into ½” dice

2 springs fresh rosemary

2 fresh or dried bay leaves

1½ tsp peperoncino (crushed red pepper)

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 medium-sized onion, chopped

1 recipe Trito (see recipe below)

1 cup canned peeled Italian plum tomatoes, crushed

½ pound ham hocks, pig’s foot, or fresh/smoked port butt

1 cup ditalini pasta

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

 

  1. Place the beans in a deep bowl and pour in enough cold water to cover them by at least 4 inches. Soak the beans in a cool place for at least 8 hours, or overnight.
  2. Drain the beans and transfer them to a deep, heavy 4-6 quart pot.  Add water, potatoes, rosemary, bay leaves, and peperoncino; bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to medium, cover and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally
  3. Heat olive oil in a medium-size skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and cook to golden brown, stirring often, about 6 minutes.
  4. Add trito and stir until browned, about 2 minutes.  Add crushed tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Pour mixture into large soup pot.  If using ham hocks, add them now.  Continue simmering over medium heat until the beans are tender, about 1 hour.  If using port butt, add it 30 minutes after adding the trito mixture.
  6. Transfer a portion of the cooked soup base to a bowl; mash coarsely and return to soup pot.  (The soup can be prepared to this point up to 2 days in advance and refrigerated.  Bring the soup to a boil before continuing. )
  7. Stir in the pasta. Cook, stirring often, until the pasta is tender, about 10 minutes.
  8. Remove the meat from the pot while the pasta is cooking. Shred meat into bite-size pieces and return to the soup pot.
  9. Remove soup from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Let stand for 5 minutes. then ladle into warm bowls; sprinkle with grated cheese.

 

Trito

Makes 3/4 cup

4 cloves garlic, peeled

½ cup shredded carrots

½ cup lightly packed chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon extra if storing

 

  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until very smooth.  Stop the machine once or twice to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  2. Transfer the trito to  a small bowl and smooth the surface.  To store drizzle 1 tablespoon oil over the surface, cover tightly, and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.

 

This is another great Italian soup.  I have shared the recipe with several friends who have showcased it as part of their holiday buffet. Traditionally, we toast some day-old bread and put it at the bottom of the soup bowl before ladling the soup in, or serve it along side to scoop up all good, thick beans.

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