Judith’s Tuscan Bean Soup
I made this hearty and delicious soup several times over our holiday break. It is a bit involved, but there are several ways to simplify if you wish. This soup is good if it is made several hours in advance of being served so that you can let the flavors marry as it sits. For 4-5 full-size servings.
1/2-pound dry beans (about 1-cup dry)
4-5 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 medium onion or 2-3 shallots
Sprig of rosemary
Several sprigs of oregano
Small bunch of hearty kale (like dino or karinata), or 1/2-pound spinach, or 2-3 cups chopped cabbage, washed and chopped.
12 ounces of tomato sauce
1 - 2 cups chopped carrot, or chopped broccoli
Grated cheese (Gruyere is good. The cheese is optional)
Soak the beans overnight, discard the soaking water, and cook them. You can use some of the broth as part of the cooking water. Don’t use too much cooking liquid with the beans — it is going to become part of the soup.
In your soup pot, fry the bacon, remove it from the fat, chop it into bite-size pieces and set it aside. Sauté the onion or shallots in the bacon grease, then add the greens, chile flakes, rosemary and oregano. Cook the greens down for a few minutes and add the cooked beans. Stir in the tomato sauce. Set the soup pot aside on the back of the stove.
In the pot that you used to cook the beans (or any pot that is handy), heat up the remaining broth. Use some judgement — the amount of stock that you add to the soup will determine the consistency of the final product. Add the chopped carrot or broccoli (whichever you decided to use) to the broth. Cook for a few minutes — only until the vegetables are partially cooked. Add the vegetables and broth to the soup. Stir the soup. You can add the bacon now, or just before serving.
Before serving, heat the soup up and taste for salt, pepper and acid. Adjust accordingly. The soup can be served with a topping of grated cheese.