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Tuscan Bean Soup (Zuppa Di Fagoli)

When we think of Italy we always think of sunshine, this is not always the case as in the north of the country the winters are probably even colder than they are in the UK. This hearty bean soup will be a comforting culinary heating system for those cold winter days. I believe this is originally from Giancarlo Caldesi from his excellent cookbook Return To Tuscany.

Petes Kitchen - Tuscan Bean SoupIngredients
600g/1lb 5oz dried cannellini beans
300g/10½oz dried borlotti beans
100g/3½oz fat cut from a ham, or a ham or prosciutto bone
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 litre/1¾ pints vegetable or beef stock
extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
For the soffritto
8 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 celery sticks, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 sprig rosemary
4 bay leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

Method
Soak the beans overnight in cold water, using a separate bowl for each type of bean. Rinse and drain the beans, then boil them in separate pans; the borlotti beans for about an hour, the cannellini beans for 45 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, cook the soffritto. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and gently fry the celery, carrot, onion, garlic, rosemary and bay leaves until golden, about 15 minutes. Remove the rosemary sprig and bay leaves and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the ham fat or bone and the  cannellini beans to the soffritto. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and cook for a further 10 minutes. Add the stock and bring to the boil, then simmer for 25 minutes or until the beans are tender. Remove the pieces of ham fat or bone. Stir in the whole borlotti beans. Season with more salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Serve drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and some toasted rustic bread like ciabata.