An autumn/winter soup this–with a big presence.
Adapted from Leslie Forbes’ lovely book A Table in Tuscany.
In the early eighties she had the bright idea of eating her way round Tuscany’s restaurants and watering holes–an arduous task to set oneself.
This soup–one of the best bean soups in Tuscany–she credits to the restaurant of the Fattoria dei Barbi near Montalcino and the unnamed English cook, married to an Italian, thus providing the important advantage of a Tuscan mother-in-law! This is 25 years ago mind–things have a habit of changing.
The book remains a gem (used copies available on Amazon for a penny!).
2 carrots--chopped small
2 sticks of celery–chopped small
2 leeks–cleaned and chopped small
6 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 tinned tomatoes–chopped up with their liquid
A sprig of fresh thyme
1 large garlic clove–pulped
Half a green cabbage–stem removed and shredded
The other half of the cabbage shredded thinly–this for a topping (see below)
1 tablespoon olive oil
About 800 gms/24 oz of cooked white beans [canned or bottled or dried, soaked and cooked]–drained but their liquid retained
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan and sweat the celery, leeks and carrots until they are tender–about twenty minutes.
- Mix in the tomatoes, garlic and thyme and let them cook on for five minutes.
- Add the cabbage, season with salt & pepper and cook on for ten minutes.
- Purée three-quarters of the beans in a mixer with a little of their liquid.
- Add the bean water and the bean purée and stir it all together.
- Cook this thick mix for an hour–stirring it regularly to stop it sticking and burning.
- Add a little of the stock each time you stir it.
- This is meant to be a thick soup–up to you how loose to make it–just be careful not to dilute the depth of taste.
- While the soup cooks on sauté the rest of the cabbage to serve as a topping when you present the soup.
- Keep tasting the soup as you go (you may find yourself doing that anyway!).
- Serve with a drizzle of good quality olive oil.