Monday, August 27, 2018

Zuppa di Fagioli alla Fiorentina (Florentine Bean Soup)

This is the authentic bean soup recipe from Florence. The Tuscans have been renowned for centuries for their great love of bean-eating! The soup is placed in a wide ovenproof dish, covered with thinly sliced onions, coated with a sheen of olive oil and heated in the oven until the onions form a perfect golden crust. Serves 4

1kg fresh or 450 g dried cannellini or borlotti beans - 5 large cloves garlic - 2 large onions, peeled and chopped - 8 tablespoons olive oil - 1 carrot, finely chopped - 1 leek, chopped - 1 stick celery, chopped - 1 large ripe tomato, chopped - 1 ham hock - 1.5 litres water – salt - ½ teaspoon beef extract - 275 g black Tuscan cabbage or dark green cabbage leaves washed and cut into large pieces - 1 sprig fresh rosemary - 2.5g dried thyme - 4 slices coarse white bread - 5 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
If you're using dried beans, soak them overnight and boil twice for 5-10 minutes, washing in between each boiling. Drain and discard the water
Peel and chop 2 of the garlic cloves and fry with the chopped onions in 3 tablespoons of olive oil for 5 minutes. Add the rest of the chopped vegetables and the ham bone, the beans and cold water. Add a pinch or two of salt and the beef extract. Cover and simmer for about 1 hour or until the beans are tender
Remove the ham hock and 1 large ladleful of whole, cooked beans. Liquidise or sieve the rest of the soup. Return the whole beans to the soup with the cabbage. Continue to simmer gently until the cabbage is tender. Cut off some of the meat from the ham hock, cube it and put it into the soup
Meanwhile, pour the remaining olive oil into a small saucepan and heat it gently with the rosemary, thyme and 2 more of the garlic cloves, unpeeled but crushed. After 10 minutes or so, strain the oil into the soup and heat it through for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Toast the bread in the oven. Peel the remaining garlic clove and rub each side of each slice of bread with it. Place the bread in the bottom of a warmed soup tureen. Pour the soup over the bread, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve at once

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