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Gusto

Tuscan Bean Soup

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This classic Tuscan soup is rich and thick, and it cries out for crusty bread and a big, fat red wine (Italian, of course!). The secret to a rich, flavourful Italian soup is tossing in a Parmesan rind, which infuses the broth with its sweet, salty goodness. So, hang onto those cheese rinds to flavour your soups, sauces, and stews. For those of you in a hurry, substitute canned beans and remove the overnight soaking process.

  • Serves

    8

Ingredients

  • 1 lb (450 g) dried white beans (about 2 1/4 cups/560 ml), such as great northern, cannellini, or navy
  • 8 slices pancetta (1/8-inch/3 mm slices)
  • 2 Spanish onions, cut in medium dice
  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 5 cups (1.25 L) chicken stock
  • 1 piece Parmesan rind, 3 by 2 inches (8 x 5 cm)
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 6 carrots, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch (1 cm) pieces
  • 11 oz. (310 g) cured Italian sausage (preferably soppressata), cut into 1/2- by 1/4-inch (1 cm x 6 mm) pieces
  • 1 lb (450 g) kale, stems and centre ribs removed and discarded, leaves coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup (250 ml) freshly grated or shaved Parmesan, for garnish
  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

  1. Place the dried beans in a bowl and rinse a few times. Cover with plenty of cold water, and soak overnight.
  2. Preheat the oven to 325F (160C).
  3. Line a large plate with paper towels. Place the pancetta on a parchment paper–lined baking sheet, and cook until golden brown and crispy, about 5 minutes. Drain and let cool on the paper towels.
  4. Rinse and drain the beans in a colander and set aside. In an 8-quart (8 L) pot, cook the onions in the olive oil over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  5. Add the beans to the pot. Add 2 cups (500 ml) of water and the chicken stock, Parmesan cheese rind, salt, pepper, bay leaf, and rosemary. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and then reduce to a simmer and let cook, uncovered, until the beans are just tender, about 40 minutes.
  6. Stir in the carrots, and simmer for 10 minutes or until almost tender but still slightly firm. Add the chopped sausage, kale, and 4-5 cups of water. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the kale is tender, about 4 minutes.
  7. Taste the soup and adjust the seasonings with salt and freshly ground pepper. Ladle into serving bowls, and top with the pancetta rounds and Parmesan.
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