Tuscan Bean Soup
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
- 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.
- 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
- Heat olive oil in a medium-size skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook to golden brown, stirring often, about 6 minutes.
- Add trito and stir until browned, about 2 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes.
- 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.
- 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. )
- Stir in the pasta. Cook, stirring often, until the pasta is tender, about 10 minutes.
- Remove the meat from the pot while the pasta is cooking. Shred meat into bite-size pieces and return to the soup pot.
- 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.
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
- 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.
- 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.