Make this white bean soup with a nod to the cuisine of Tuscany. Photo by: Carl Tremblay/America’s Test Kitchan via AP
January 30, 2019 3:00:24 PM
The people of Tuscany are known as mangiafagioli, or "bean eaters," a nod to the prominent role beans play in their cuisine. Cannellini (white kidney) beans are the region's most famous legume, and Tuscan cooks go to extremes to ensure these beans are cooked perfectly, from simmering them in rainwater to slow-cooking them overnight in a wine bottle in a fire's dying embers.
Zuppa di fagioli alla toscana is a quintessential bean dish featuring an aromatic base, hearty greens, tomatoes, pancetta and, of course, creamy, buttery beans. Soaking the beans overnight was essential to soften them so their interiors cooked up creamy. And salting the soaking water -- essentially brining -- softened the skins until they were barely perceptible for ultratender beans.
After experimenting with cooking times and temperatures, we found that a vigorous stovetop simmer caused some beans to explode, so we gently cooked them in a 250 F oven for even results. Adding the tomatoes toward the end of cooking ensured their acidity wouldn't toughen the beans.
TUSCAN WHITE BEAN SOUP
Start to finish: 2 hours (not counting at least 8 hours soaking time)
Salt and pepper
1 pound (2 1/2 cups) dried cannellini beans, picked over and rinsed
6 ounces pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and cut into
2 celery ribs, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
8 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
4 cups chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1 pound kale or collard greens, stemmed and chopped
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 sprig fresh rosemary
Nutrition information per serving: 367 calories; 96 calories from fat; 11 g fat (3 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 14 mg cholesterol; 483 mg sodium; 48 g carbohydrate; 17 g fiber; g sugar; 19 g protein.