Tuscany is known for it's wonderful cuisine. A traditional dish that can generally be found in just about any restaurant in Tuscany is a very delectable bean soup with tomatoes and various herbs. Often, the soup is topped with shaved fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano and, on occasion, also with freshly toasted country bread.
One of the best Tuscan bean soups I have ever had was in the ancient hill town of Volterra, Italy. Here, I sat in a tiny restaurant off the beaten track and enjoyed an utterly delicious yet stunningly simple soup. For years, I tried to recreate something that resembled this particular soup. And then it happened: I managed to cook a soup that tasted just like the one I had enjoyed in Volterra and that also drew upon only a select few ingredients. It was just perfect!
I rejoiced and put the newly created recipe in a safe place – only to forget what that safe place was once we moved. Years went by and I could not find my treasured recipe. I tried. I looked. Yet, nothing. The recipe seemed lost forever – until the other day when I looked through some unrelated notes I had taken. There it was! It simply fell out of a book and landed in front of me.
Needless to say, I fired up the stove and started cooking right away!
While there are many different versions out there, the one presented here is just about the fastest I have made. From start to finish, you are looking at roughly 20 minutes. The ingredients are simple – nothing fancy required – and basically consist of beans, tomatoes, sage, stock, and a few more staples. Nothing to it – really. If you are familiar with this site, you will notice that I have already published another version of Tuscan bean soup - one that really appeals to garlic lovers! The version presented here is infinitely simpler and much lighter on the garlic. It is no less delicious, though.
What's even better, the soup is, for all intents and purposes, mostly beige. Sure, there is some spinach in it, but if your difficult eater is turned off by it, it is simple to remove. To make it even more appropriate for picky eaters, this soup can easily be pureed to avoid any and all chances of identifying what's in it. While it changes the texture a bit, your child may find it actually more palatable.
3 Tbs. Olive Oil.
1 large Onion, chopped.
3 cloves of Garlic, minced.
1 can of Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed.
2 large tomatoes, skinned and chopped.
2 Tbs. fresh Sage, chopped.
2 cups Vegetarian Soup Stock.
2 cups slightly compressed Baby Spinach.
Roughly 4 Tbs. freshly grated or shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Let's get started:
First, let us take care of skinning the tomatoes.
Heat a small pot of water until it boils.
While the water heats up, place some cold water, preferably with some ice cubes, in a medium bowl.
Perforate the skins of the tomatoes all the way around but slightly cutting the skin with a knife.
Place the tomatoes in the boiling water for about a minute or until you see the skins start to separate from the tomato.
Remove the tomatoes from the boiling water and put them into the ice cold water.
Remove the tomatoes and simply pull the skins off with your hands.
Remove the cores and chop the tomatoes.
Now on to the soup:
Put a large pot on medium heat.
Add the olive oil.
Add the onions.
Add the garlic.
Saute for roughly 4 minutes until the onion is translucent and soft.
Add the chopped tomatoes, the beans, the spinach, the sage, and the soup stock.
Raise heat to high until the soup comes to a boil.
As soon as the soup starts to boil, lower the heat to low, cover the pot, and let simmer for 15 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Once the soup has cooked for 15 minutes, serve immediately in individual bowls and sprinkle a bit of Parmesan on top.
If you want, you can also serve a quality crusty white bread with the soup – the combination is traditional and a perfect match.