Tuscan White Bean Soup

 

This recipe is a family recipe. This is a staple my father makes during the cold months. It’s delicious any time of year, but it’s hearty and warms the soul. An Italian tradition from the hills of Tuscany. Cannellini beans, or white kidney beans, are at the forefront of this dish. My father always preferred Swiss chard to other similar leafy greens, and I tend to stick with it as well. Not only is it delicious and healthy, but the firm leaves don’t break down in the soup, and the bright red stems add a beautiful splash of color.  I’ve used kale, spinach, and baby bok choy (which I used with Swiss chard for the above picture), all are great for this dish. Use good Extra Virgin Olive Oil, as it’s used also as a garnish in this dish and good olive oil compliments the soup oh so well. It’s a simple recipe and one you’ll crave every time the temperature outside drops.

For this recipe, which will give you 6-8 servings, you’ll need the following:

  • 5 (15 oz) cans of cannellini beans or white kidney beans
  • 1 (15 oz) can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 med onion
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 bunch of Swiss Chard/Kale/Spinach/Baby Bok Choy
  • chicken base (sub vegetable base for vegetarian)
  • salt
  • Black pepper
  • crushed red pepper

First prep your veggies:

Dice your onion

chop your garlic

Rinse your leafy greens, pat dry and rough chop them into large pieces. They’ll cook down but I like having the large leafs in the soup. If you’re using swiss chard or kale be sure to cut out the large portions of the stems. They’re tough and unnecessary for the delicate soup.

Over medium to medium-low heat, heat a large sauce/soup pot. Add enough olive to cover the bottom of the pan, I like to add about a 1/4 in depth of olive oil to the pot.

When the oil is hot and fragrant, add your onions and let simmer. Turn the heat down if they’re browning too early. This is a delicate dish, we want to treat the ingredients we add as such. Let them simmer for a few minutes on their own, then add your garlic and simmer for another 5 minutes. If they’re browning turn the heat down. You want a constant simmer, not a fry.

Add your beans and all the juices from the can.

Add your tomatoes and all the juices from the can.

Add 1-2 tbsp of chicken base, or a cup of chicken stock. Sub vegetable base/stock if making vegetarian.

Bring it to a light boil. Stir as the soup is thick and you don’t want it sticking to the bottom.

Once you have a light boil, add your swiss chard or other leafy greens. stir and bring back to a light boil.

Add Salt and black pepper to taste.

For an extra kick, add crushed red pepper. about a tsp or more.

Reduce to simmer and let it simmer for 15-20 min. Stir occasionally.

Serve in soup bowls. Drizzle olive oil lightly over the soup and add more fresh cracked black pepper. You can also add fresh grated parmigiana/romano cheese.

Enjoy!

Cacio e Pepe

 

Cacio e Pepe with Homemade Spaghetti

One of our all time favorite dishes and it’s so easy to make. Cacio e Pepe (Cheese and Pepper). It’s that simple. For this recipe you use the simple trick of ladling in pasta water to your pasta to create a creamy sauce. The starch from the pasta water will help the cheese and pepper to coat the pasta.

Here’s an easy recipe for homemade pasta as well:

> Homemade Spaghetti – Pasta dough comes in many variations but is mostly made of flour and eggs. For every 100g of flour you add an egg. One pound of pasta is approximately 500g of flour and 5 eggs. We mixed Semolina and white flour with a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of olive oil for this batch. You may find that you don’t need as much flour or you need more flour and that’s ok. If you live in a humid climate, the flour in your house will pick up moisture through the humid air and you’ll find that you need less eggs to bind your dough. Let the consistency of the dough tell you when it’s ready. If you feel you have enough flour mixed in to start rolling the pasta, press your thumb into the middle of the dough ball, if it comes out clean you have enough flour, if it’s still gummy and sticking to your thumb you don’t have enough flour. Knead until you have a smooth consistent dough. Roll it thin and cut into thin strips, or follow the instructions for a pasta extruding machine, if you have one. Use excess flour to toss your fresh pasta in to keep it from sticking. Bunch it into nests, or hang like our picture below.

 

> Cacio e Pepe – Boil water and add enough salt to the water to make it a little less s

 

altier than sea water. Cook your pasta to Al’Dente. Heat 3tbsp of butter per pound of pasta in a skillet. Season heavily with black pepper. Add in your cooked pasta to the skillet. Add in a generous amount of Pecorino, Parmigiano, Parmesan, or Grana Padano Cheese. Quickly pour a few scoops of the pasta water and fold the pasta to make a sauce. Be careful not to add too much pasta water at once. Add one ladle at a time, you don’t want the sauce watery. Just enough to smooth out the cheese into a creamy consistency. Add cheese or pepper as needed. Serve and eat immediately and garnish with more cheese and more black pepper!

Buon Appetito!