Sunday, January 23, 2011

Tuscan Vegetable Soup with White Beans and Parmesan


A GUEST BLOG BY CLARE...
I feel honored to be the first guest blogger for Chef Bolek’s blog.  It is hard to compete with Keith’s words and history, but I will try. 

I knew how much Keith loved me when he was willing to accept a vegetarian in his life.  Keith often jokes about his master plan to convert me to being a meat eater again, but in the meantime, he enjoys trying new vegetarian friendly recipes with me.  Keith’s mom made this recipe for me the first Christmas I shared with his family.  It was very good but a great deal of preparation is involved.  After making it myself, I know his mom and dad love me too.

I made this soup this past Christmas for our guests and it turned out very well.  The soup is an interesting mix of beans, cabbage, tomatoes, celery, carrots and zucchini.  There are a couple of options for enhancing this soup, such as adding toasted slices of bread to the bottom of the bowl and spooning the soup over the bread.  I did those options this past Christmas and would recommend them when you make this recipe.



TUSCAN VEGETABLE SOUP WITH WHITE BEANS AND PARMESAN
Serves many

Ingredients:
1 pound of dried cannelloni (white kidney beans)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons of fresh thyme
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 head of green cabbage, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
4 celery stalks, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 carrots, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
10 cups of vegetable stock
2 medium potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cup of fresh basil, chopped
1/2 head of red cabbage cut into 1/2 inch pieces
6 3/4 inch thick slices of 7 grain bread, toasted (optional)
1 cup of grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Additional olive oil (optional)

Directions:
1.  Place beans in a heavy large pot.  Pour in enough water to cover beans by 3 inches. Soak overnight.  Drain beans.  As an alternative, you can buy canned white beans.  Just make sure to rinse the beans before suing them.  

2.  Heat 2 tablespoons in a very large pot over medium heat.  Add onion, thyme and garlic.  Saute for five minutes.  Then add the green cabbage, tomatoes, celery and carrots.  Saute for an additional ten minutes.

3.  Add the beans, 10 cups of stock, potatoes and basil.  Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce the heat to allow for the soup to simmer.

4.  After 1 hour, add the red cabbage and zucchini.  Cover and allow the soup to continue to simmer until the vegetables are tender, which should be about twenty more minutes.

5.  Add toasted bread slices to soup and remove from heat; let stand for 10 minutes.

6.  Stir in cheese.

7.  Divide soup among bowls.  Top each with ground pepper and additional olive oil.

And, as Keith would say ...

ENJOY!

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