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With winter approaching, the leaves falling and that crisp smell in the air, I’m always reminded of the beautiful Fall weather in Italy. Not only do I recall how fresh and crisp the air seemed, or how beautiful the sun glistened against buildings in the historic center that have been standing for centuries, but the smells of soup intoxicated the streets and my stomach, to say the least. One of my favorite soups was taught to me by my friend’s mother, a native Tuscan. Her hearty, earthy background as a farmer’s daughter translated into her cooking, especially this soup that is not only good for you but more importantly, good for your soul.
Zuppa di fagioli cannellini (Cannellini Bean Soup)
250g cannellini beans
23 garlic cloves peeled and chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 bunch flat leaf parsley leaves chopped
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
extra virgin olive oil
Soak and cook the beans (cannellini).
Drain and reserve the liquid.
In a large saucepan cook the garlic in the oil until soft but not brown.
Add the parsley and cook for a second then add the beans and stir.
Put three quarters of the mixture into a food processor with some of the liquid and briefly pulse; you do not want a puree.
Add more liquid if necessary but it should be thick.
Return to the saucepan and season with salt and pepper.
If too thick add more cooking liquid.
Serve with a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil.
Escarole: discard outer tough leaves of 2 medium heads. Wash the inside leaves but do not dry. Heat about 3 tablespoons olive oil in a frying pan and cook the escarole briefly. Chop coarsely and add to the soup.
Tomato and rosemary: peel and seed 1kg fresh plum tomatoes. Chop coarsely and cook for 2 minutes in 2 tablespoons olive oil with 3 sprigs finely chopped fresh rosemary and 23 chopped garlic cloves. Add to the soup.
Porcini: soak 50g dried porcini mushrooms drain cook and add to the soup.