Soup’s on – Tuscan bean soup

It’s true, I am blogging another recipe. I am sharing this firstly, because it is totally delicious and you should immediately make it as soon as the weather gets cool, Canberra I am looking at you, and secondly, because nice people asked me to.

I hesitated over this recipe. I have adapted it from a few other versions. Borrowed the idea, and the method. The tricky part when I started to think about how to write it down was that I never measure the ingredients for this sort of recipe. I don’t measure much of anything in the kitchen actually. I just do it. (Except with baking of course, where precision is essential). To Robert’s surprise, I don’t spend my time in the kitchen tasting much either. He always tastes, at every stage, all along the way. But how will you know what it tastes like? he asks. I just do, is the only answer I can give. (I will admit though, that this doesn’t mean I don’t eat while I am cooking. I have been known to finish all the carrots and all the beans before they are cooked and I always cut bits of the resting roast off and eat them while I finish getting more vegies ready to replace the ones I’ve eaten.)

If you get home and want this for dinner, you need to have made it yesterday; this is slow food.

To record this for you I’ve measured out a few things, made a few estimates. What is written here is not extensively tested, like I said, I make it up as I go along, but it’s a soup, it is hard to get it wrong.

Also, you can use tinned beans, but you shouldn’t. Start soaking the night before. Also make your own pesto. (I would say grow the basil yourself first too, but you might start throwing things.)

Tuscan bean soup with cavolo nero and pesto

150 grams dried borlotti beans

150 grams dried white beans (cannellini or butter or whatever you like)

Soak the beans overnight or for as long as you can. Then drain off the water and in enough water to cover, boil them for an hour and a half, until they are tender, but not falling apart. (If you have to use tinned beans, and sometimes it’s the only way, then use one or two tins depending on how many people you are feeding and how much veg you have.)

1 large brown onion chopped

3 carrots chopped

1 piece of celery chopped

2 rashes of bacon – finely sliced

1 medium potato diced

2 bunches of cavolo nero or kale – remove the stems and chop finely

1 tin of tomatoes

1 litre of vegetable stock

bay leaves – 2

thyme – small handful with the stems removed and roughly chopped

salt and pepper, olive oil

Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan, add a little salt, then add the onion and saute until it is translucent. Add the carrots, celery and bacon and cook for ten minutes on a medium heat. Add the potato, tomato, beans, bay leaves, thyme and the stock. Make sure the liquid covered all the ingredients, if not top up with some water. Cook for 20 minutes at a fast simmer, then reduce heat and add the cavolo nero. Cook more gently for another 15 minutes. Taste. Add salt and pepper. Divide into bowls and top with a dollop of pesto and some parsley. Serve with warmed bread or toast and butter.

Makes enough for about six, but infinitely adjustable and forgiving. Add what ever veg you like, sometimes I like a few mushrooms in it. You can also reserve some of the beans and puree them, then add towards the end if you like the soup a bit thickened.