I have never been to Tuscany. I don’t even know if they make a version of this soup there but this recipe (and variations of it) have always been called Tuscan Bean Soup. So here it is.
This version is suitable for vegans; I used a vegan bouillon powder to make the stock. I also used tinned beans for convenience but you could use dried beans if you have time to soak them. The actual mix of beans isn’t too important – some recipes use all cannellini beans – what really matters is that you choose varieties you like to eat.
My mum used to make a version of this soup (actually, she probably still does) and it has always been a favourite of mine, tasty, hearty and filling. This soup is no starter to a meal – it is a meal all in itself. Add some crusty bread and you are away.
Once, when no. 2 daughter was about five years old, we visited my mum when she was cooking. The conversation went like this:
L: “What are you cooking nana?”
M: “Bean soup”.
L: (With a cheeky glint in her eye) “I don’t care what it’s been, what is it now”?
That pivotal moment should have prepared us for the slightly warped but hilarious sense of humour my daughter has displayed ever since – like the time I opened the kitchen cupboard to find all my groceries looking back at me with googly eyes, or the time she recommended a “really funny” film which was actually the most terrifying thing I have ever seen!
Anyway, for that reason this soup makes me smile and, on a rainy day in March, that is priceless.
2 tbsp Olive Oil
2 large Onions, sliced
3 Celery Sticks, sliced
3 Carrots, diced
3 Cloves of Garlic, finely chopped
5 fresh Thyme Sprigs, leaves picked
2 fresh Rosemary Sprigs
1 tsp Smoked Paprika
2 x 400g tins Chopped Tomatoes
2 litres Vegetable Stock
400g tin of Cannellini Beans, drained
400g tin of Flageolet beans, drained
400g tin of Borlotti Beans
1 small Savoy Cabbage, thick stem removed, finely sliced
Heat the oil in a large saucepan then add the onions, celery and carrots; sweat the vegetables (stirring occasionally) until softened but not coloured. Add the garlic and herbs and cook for another five minutes.
Add the tomatoes, vegetable stock and beans. Bring to the boil and then simmer for half an hour or so to give the flavours time to develop.
Remove the rosemary and add the cabbage and simmer for another ten minutes or so or until the cabbage is just cooked.
This soup will keep in the fridge for two or three days or in the freezer for up to six months.