This rustic Italian soup is as comforting as it is delicious! Humble ingredients come together to create something greater than the sum of their parts and are brought to life with plenty of Parmesan and quality olive oil.
Preparation time 24 hours (sort of)
Cooking time 1 and a half hours
Serves 2-3 people
200g dried cannellini beans
½ tsp baking soda
1 large onion
1 large carrot
2 stalks of celery
1 stalk of green garlic
50g parmesan (and any extra rinds you have saved)
2 bay leaves
8 leaves of kale
1 stalk of rosemary
1 parsley stalk
Plenty of olive oil and black pepper
Salt to taste
And rustic bread for parmesan toast
(not necessary but highly recommended!)
Chopping board and knife
Colander or strainer
Rubber spatula or wooden spoon
Large bowl to soak cannellini beans in
1. The day before you want to prepare this dish place the beans and the baking soda into a large bowl and fill with enough water to cover the beans well, at least an inch of water above the beans. Cover and allow to sit in your fridge overnight.
The baking soda lowers the pH of the water and makes it so that the skins of the beans break down slightly and cook faster. If you prefer beans with more bite but that will take longer to cook you can omit it.
2. The following day, place the beans along with the soaking water into a large pot, top up with even more water and add the bay leaves, rosemary, a generous amount of salt to taste and a few parsley stems if you have them. Bring up to a boil and reduce to a moderate simmer. Allow to cook for 40 minutes or until the beans are almost completely tender.
3. While this is cooking, prepare the rest of your ingredients. Peel and dice the onion into rough 2cm pieces. Peel the carrot and cut into similarly sized pieces. Split each stalk of celery in half through the centre (also known as the rib) to create two long strips and cut these into a small dice. Grate the parmesan and reserve and if there is any leftover rind, add that directly to the pot of cooking beans. Remove the leaves of kale from their stalks by simply pulling them off by pinching around the base of the stem and ripping upwards. Chop into rough 1-inch pieces. Cut the green garlic in half through the stalk and roughly chop into small pieces.
Parmesan rind is an ingredient that is often thrown away but by adding it to stocks, soups and stews you can extract all the incredible flavour it has to give. Keep a small airtight container of these in your freezer and save them for a rainy day when you need a flavour and umami boost in your cooking.
4. When the beans are ready, strain through a colander set over a large bowl to collect all the cooking liquid. This will be the stock base for our soup. Place the large pot back onto the heat with a generous amount of olive oil. Add the chopped carrot, celery, onion and garlic, season well with salt and pepper and cook while stirring over high heat for 3 minutes.
5. Add the cooking liquid from the beans to the pot and add the roughly chopped kale. Bring up to the boil and reduce to a simmer. Keep cooking for another 15 minutes or until the kale softens slightly. Add the beans to the pot and cook for another 10 minutes or until everything is nice and tender.
6. This healthful soup of beans and vegetables is absolutely delicious by itself but you can afford to cheat a little by adding plenty of grated parmesan, generous lugs of extra virgin olive oil as well as cracked black pepper and toasted bread with lots of grated parmesan on top. Crisp up the parmesan toast under your oven’s grill for a crunchy, cheesy counterpart to this delicious soup.