So far, Al Dente has hosted recipes on a Tuscan vegetable soup and a Tuscan white bean soup. Having never been to the Motherland itself, I’m left to the standard definitions of Italian cuisine as my guide. So, what my Tuscan soups have in common is that they are largely peasant dishes that use simple, seasonal ingredients with cheap proteins and little seasoning. Tuscan food is called rustic and simple, yet the t-bone steak finished in olive oil is considered a signature dish of the region. I’m actually more inclined to follow the definition provided by pasta company DeLallo:
Soups, sauces and stews are the cornerstones of Tuscan cooking, many beginning with and relying upon the mastery of a perfect soffritto on which to build more complex flavors. A soffritto can be considered a sort-of Italian cooked mirepoix, and is a “pre-prep” combination of olive oil and minced browned vegetables (usually onion, carrot and celery) that creates a base for a variety of slow-cooked dishes. Herbs (sage and rosemary are used in many Tuscan dishes) and seasonings can be added to the soffritto as needed to bring out the unique flavors of each different recipe.
I think that the romanticization of Tuscany has probably ruined people on what true Tuscan cooking is: beans, game meat, rice, mushrooms, and vegetables. I blame Frances Mayes.
So, what makes this soup that I present today a Tuscan soup? Beans and fresh vegetables? Tuscan kale? Simplicity and fresh veg? It certainly sounds like it.
WHAT WORKED: The availability of fresh produce at Wegmans and the relatively quick preparation time.
WHAT DIDN’T: Nothing. This was really pretty straightforward.
EASE OF PREPARATION: Easy. Just don’t burn yourself while pureeing.
BEST FOR: A rushed weekend evening soup or on a weeknight this spring while it’s unseasonably cold.
SERVE WITH: Crusty bread and grated cheese.
Easy Tuscan Bean Soup
Adapted from Wanderlust Kitchen
- 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 2 medium carrots, diced
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 1 medium zucchini, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, pressed
- 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
- 32 oz. vegetable or chicken broth (JARED’S NOTE: I used chicken because I was out of vegetable.)
- 2-14 oz. cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 14 oz. can low-sodium diced tomatoes with juices
- 3 cups chopped Tuscan kale, ribs removed
- 2 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
In a stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add 2 tbsp. of olive oil and bring to a shimmer. Add the carrots, celery, onions, and zucchini. Toss in the oil to coat and cook for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and herbs, stirring to combine, and cooking 60 to 90 seconds until fragrant.
Gently add the beans, tomatoes and broth. Stir together and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low, and add the kale. Cover and cook 15 minutes.
Taste the broth and adjust with salt and pepper.
Puree about 1/4 to 1/3 of the soup by either pulsing an immersion blender 6 to 8 times in the soup, or by ladling 1/4 of the soup into a conventional blender, pulsing 6 to 8 times, and returning it to the pot.
Return to a simmer and serve hot with grated cheese and crusty bread.