This simple, wholesome soup, typical of the cooking of Tuscany, makes a delicious starter. It is very easy to prepare, although you need to soak the dried beans ahead of time. Should you forget, you can use canned beans to make the quick version suggested in Some more ideas, below. Serve with warm ciabatta or rustic bread.
For a very quick version of this soup, use 1 can cannellini beans, about 410 g, drained and rinsed, instead of dried beans. Cook the vegetables and bacon as in the main recipe, then add 1.2 litres (2 pints) stock and the rosemary, and bring to the boil. Add the beans and simmer gently for 5 minutes, to heat the beans through. Continue from step 4 as above. * You can substitute dried haricot beans for the cannellini beans. * For a flageolet bean soup, replace the cannellini beans with dried flageolet beans. Soften the onion and garlic in the olive oil with 2 finely chopped celery sticks (omit the bacon and red pepper). Add the beans and the stock. Bring to the boil, then add 1 tbsp pesto sauce instead of the rosemary. Simmer for 45–60 minutes or until the beans are very tender. Remove about 3 tbsp of the beans and mash them. Instead of cabbage, add 100 g (3½ oz) frozen peas to the soup. Bring back to the boil and simmer for 3–4 minutes, then add 85 g (3 oz) baby spinach leaves and the grated zest of 1 lemon. Simmer for 1 minute or until the spinach has wilted. Stir the mashed beans into the soup, season to taste and serve.
Dried beans are an excellent source of soluble fibre, which can help to reduce high blood cholesterol levels. * Savoy cabbage, one of the hardiest of all cabbages, is easily recognized by its crinkly leaves. It contains a number of different phytochemicals that appear to help reduce the risk of cancer.
A, C * B1, B6, folate, niacin, calcium, copper, iron, potassium, zinc
Thanks for the recipe, I just adored it. I tweaked a little just because I was trying to use up ingredients in the pantry and fridge (i.e. chicken, smoked sausage, anchovy and tomato paste) but needed a good base to go off of. Also wanted to use lots of garlic... So good! Baked a loaf of Irish brown soda bread to go with and couldn't have asked for a better or more nutritious meal. - 28 Jun 2010
Made this - added more water and a touch of chilli sauce. Really lovely soup/broth - recommend this for a winter warmer. - 15 Jan 2017
This was amazing. So easy to make and very comforting. For convenience I threw it all in a slow cooker on low and it was well appreciated after getting back drenched following a long bike ride. Recommended. - 12 Jun 2016