There’s nothing like Italian bean soup. Maybe it’s because it’s my heritage, but in my opinion, no one does it better. This one was a religious experience in my house--at least for my father--my mother made it every Friday. I can still see him sitting at the head of the table, with a heel of Italian bread and his big bowl of soup. I don’t think he realized the vitality he was getting from this seemingly simple soup. The combination of beans and light, fresh, sautéed vegetables creates the perfect balance of vitality and endurance.
Makes 5-6 Servings
extra virgin olive oil
1 sweet onion, diced
1-2 stalks celery, diced
generous pinch each, dried basil and rosemary
1 cup white cannellini beans, soaked 1 hour, drained
6 cups spring or filtered water
1-inch piece wakame, soaked until soft, diced
2 cups small cauliflower florets
2 small zucchini, diced
1 ½ cups cooked pasta, small shells, orzo, acini, elbows, etc.
1 cup diced dark leafy greens, kale, collards, broccoli rabe, etc.
Small handful fresh flat leaf parsley, minced, for garnish
Heat a small amount of oil in a soup pot. Sauté onions and celery with herbs and a pinch of salt. When onions are limp, add beans, water and wakame. Cover soup and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 45 minutes to 1 hour, until beans are about 80% done. Add cauliflower and zucchini, cover and simmer until beans are soft. Season lightly with salt and stir in pasta and diced greens. Simmer 5 minutes more to cook salt and greens. Serve garnished with fresh parsley.
COOK’S TIP: You can use canned organic beans for this recipe and cut your cooking time in half. You may also cook a quantity of beans and freeze them to use in place of canned beans. It’s less expensive and frozen beans retain more of their nutrients than canned ones.