Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Cranberry Beans and Ribollita

There's nothing more exciting for me than trying new foods. So you can imagine my excitement when I saw these gorgeous cranberry beans at the market and decided to use them in my all time favorite soup. It was my first time using fresh beans (as opposed to dried) and I fell in love. Look at these beans! They're just gorgeous. Call me weird, but when I was photographing them, I got really excited because they looked so damn beautiful.

 Sadly, after cooking the beans, they lose their pretty color and take on the look of a typical white bean. However, they taste great and cook so much faster than dried beans. And they were fun to remove from the pod, so overall it was a good experience and I'm definitely not disappointed.

This soup is just bursting with local and beautiful produce from the farmers market. These carrots had huge green tops, dirt still clinging on them, and the sweetest crunch I'd ever tasted in a carrot. I knew that they were just pulled from the earth. And the lacinato kale with its sexy dark green leaves is bursting with flavor and nutrition. Combine these vegetables together with some other basic ingredients and you get the Italian soup called ribollita. It's a thick and  hearty soup, which makes it filling enough to be a meal in itself. Ribollita traditionally has bread added to it to make it extra thick, but I opted out of that this time and just had some nice crusty wholegrain bread on the side.
Serve the soup with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a shaving of fresh Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese and enjoy during this lovely autumn season when the air is getting crisp and the body longs for nourishment and warmth.


3 tbs olive oil
1 large onion, chopped finely
3 large stalks celery, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1  small can whole peeled Roma tomatoes (14 1/2 ounce can) or 3 large fresh tomatoes, chopped
2 cups shelled cranberry beans or cooked white cannellini beans
4 cups vegetable broth
1 bunch lacinato kale, chopped into thin strips
sea salt, to taste
Freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese

1. In a large soup pot, saute onion in olive oil until softened. Add the carrot and celery and cook about 5 minutes.

2. Add the garlic and then add the can of tomatoes. With a wooden spoon, break up the tomatoes into small pieces (unless you're using fresh tomatoes, where you would already have them chopped before adding them to the pot).

3. Add the beans and broth and let simmer for 20-25 minutes or until the beans and vegetables are cooked. Right before serving, add the chopped kale to the pot of hot soup (the heat should be off). Stir the kale into the soup until it's nicely wilted and retains a bright green color. This is a very thick soup,so if you want to thin it out with more broth, you may. Ladle into bowls and drizzle with olive oil and a shaving of fresh cheese. Delicious!

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