Recipe: Tuscan Bean Soup

Ingredients

  • 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
  • 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

Trito

  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Method

  1. 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.
  2. 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 
  3. Heat olive oil in a medium-size skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and cook to golden brown, stirring often, about 6 minutes.  
  4. Add trito and stir until browned, about 2 minutes.  Add crushed tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes.  
  5. 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. 
  6. 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. ) 
  7. Stir in the pasta. Cook, stirring often, until the pasta is tender, about 10 minutes.  
  8. Remove the meat from the pot while the pasta is cooking. Shred meat into bite-size pieces and return to the soup pot.
  9. 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.

For the Trito:

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a food process and combine until smooth. Scrape the sides and process again.

Makes 8 as a Starter, 6 as an Entree

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