I like to eat this soup chilled on a hot day. If you want to serve it warm, take care not to boil the green soup as it will discolor if it’s cooked longer than a moment or two.
You can find the original recipe for Vellutata di Rape Bianche e Rapini in Zuppe by Mona Talbott. Mona suggests sautéing the leaves separately and swirling them into the white base. I’m a glutton for olive oil and will find any excuse to use it abundantly in recipes. Here I blanch the greens and blend them with olive oil, creating two soups that I serve alongside each other in one bowl. A visual stunner, and a fun soup to eat since you get to swirl them together and paint an edible canvass with a soup spoon.
- 2 bunches turnips, with an abundance of green tops
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, smashed
- 3 branches thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- Juice from ½ lemon
To prepare the turnips: Separate the turnips from their leaves. Wash the turnips well. No need to peel them unless they are older and the skins are tough. Thinly slice the turnips. Strip the turnip greens from their stems and wash in multiple changes of water until they’re free of dirt. You don’t need to dry the greens since you’ll be blanching them.
In a heavy-bottomed soup pot, add 3T olive oil and the onions. Sweat gently with a large pinch of salt until softened. Add the garlic cloves and thyme sprigs. Cook for another minute, then add the turnips, a big pinch of salt, bay leaves, and enough water to cover. Cook over medium heat until the turnips are easily pierced with the tip of a paring knife, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, fill a medium-sized saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Salt the water generously and blanch the turnip greens until softened, 1-2 minutes. Spread out on a sheet tray and set aside to cool completely.
Remove the thyme springs and bay leaves from the soup. Add the lemon juice and puree the soup in a blender to smooth. Taste for salt and acid, adding more salt and lemon juice as needed. Chill well.
Rinse and dry the blender. Roughly chop the cooled blanched greens. Add a ¼ cup olive oil to the base, then add the greens and any liquid collected on the sheet tray. Blend to a bright green puree. Taste for salt and add more as needed. Chill well.
To serve the soup, simultaneously pour the white base and the green base into the serving vessel from opposite ends to create two distinct half-moon shapes. Drizzle with olive oil and a crack of black pepper.
This broth could be repurposed in a number of ways. Use it to make risotto, or sip it as is and fold the picked chicken with some diced celery, mayonnaise, and some minced tarragon for a quick chicken salad.
- 1 organic whole chicken, rinsed
- 2 stalks celery, thick slices
- 1 onion, thick slices, w/ the skins
- 1 carrot, thick slices
- 2” piece of ginger, thick slices
- 1t black peppercorns
- 1T dark soy sauce (omit if you don’t have on hand)
- 2 bay leaves
- 3T kosher salt
- Filtered water to cover
Veggies for soup:
- 2 leek, white part only small dice
- 3 celery ribs, small dice
- ½ fennel, small dice
- 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1” knob ginger, minced or grated on Microplane
- 4T extra virgin olive oil, divided
- ¼ C white rice
- 1 lemon, juiced
For the broth: rinse the chicken well, taking care to remove any bits of organ meat hidden underneath the rib cage area. Split the chicken in half using kitchen shears. This makes it easier to fit the chicken snugly in the pot. Place the chicken in a large soup pot. Add the rest of the ingredients along with 1 cup of ice. Cover with cold water. Bring the liquid up to a strong simmer, then lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Skim off the scum that rises to the top with a ladle and cook for about an hour.
Once the meat starts to pull away from the bone of the drumsticks, remove the chicken with tongs and set on a sheet tray to cool slightly. Once it’s cool enough to handle, pick the chicken meat, keeping the breast and thigh meat separate. Strain the broth into a large bowl or another large pot using a fine-mesh strainer. Set aside.
For the vegetables: Wash the pot you used to cook the broth. Add 2T extra virgin olive oil and sweat the leek, celery, and fennel to soften, about 10 minutes, adding a large pinch of salt after 5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and sweat for another 2-3 minutes. Add 1T olive oil and the rice toast in the oil, stirring periodically until the pot smells toasty, 3-5 minutes. Add half the broth back into the pot and cook the rice, about 10 minutes.
To finish the soup, fold the dark meat into the soup. I prefer to save the white meat for another preparation (see quick chicken salad in the recipe intro). This is a personal preference; add whatever mixture of meat you like. Add enough broth to keep the soup loose and broth-y. Depending on how much water you started with, you may end up adding all the broth. Save whatever’s leftover; it freezes beautifully.
Season the soup with lemon juice and more kosher salt. Since the broth is mostly unseasoned, you’ll need to add at least a couple more large pinches of salt. Once it’s tasty, chill the soup. There will be some residual fat that rises to the top of the container and congeals. Scrap that off once the soup is fully chilled and save for another use – such as frying an egg, folding into fried rice, or finishing a pasta.
Here’s a soup that’s best suited for winter, but truthfully it can be delightful anytime of year, particularly if you serve it at room temp. It’s best if you can make it the day before and let it rest in the fridge. That way the flavors can continue to bloom.
Zuppa alla Frantoiana
Adapted from this recipe in Saveur
For the beans:
- 1 cup dried cranberry or cannellini beans
- 1 onion, halved
- 1 carrot
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 spring rosemary
- Filtered water to cover
For the soup:
- 3T olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, smashed
- 2 springs sage, rough chop
- 1T tomato paste
- 1 bunch kale, rough chop
- ½ head green cabbage, rough chop (Napa cabbage would work, but don’t use red cabbage as it will bleed out an unfortunate shade of blue)
- 1 fennel, medium dice
- 1 carrot, medium dice
- 2 celery stalks, medium dice
- ½ onion, medium dice
- 1 leek, sliced in ¼” half moons
- ½ butternut squash, medium dice
- 1 bouquet garni of 2 springs thyme, 1 bay leaf and 1 sprig rosemary
- Filtered water
- 1 bunch mint, rough chop
- ½ bunch parsley, rough chop
- 1 bunch dill, rough chop
- Slices of crusty bread to serve
Cook the beans: Soak the dry beans overnight in plenty of cold water. Alternatively, quick-soak the beans by covering them with cold water, bringing them to a boil, covering and soaking for 1 hour. Drain the beans.
Place the soaked beans in a large pot with 1 onion, 1 carrot, 2 bay leaves and a spring of rosemary, if you have it. Cover the beans with at least 2 inches of cold, filtered water and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook until the beans are very tender. Depending on the age of the beans, this can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours. Add more water as needed to keep the beans submerged, but not swimming, in water. Once they beans are tender, turn off the heat. Remove the onion, carrot and bay leaves. (This step can be done up to a couple days ahead of time)
Mash the beans casually with a potato masher, or transfer ½ of the cooked beans to a food processor and pulse them to break them down to a chunky paste before adding them back to the pot.
Make the soup: In a small sauté pan, heat the olive oil and smashed garlic clove. Once it’s taken on a bit of color, about a minute, remove the garlic clove and add the chopped sage and tomato paste. Fry for a couple minutes until the tomato turns a light rust color, then add this mixture to the beans.
Add the kale to the pot of beans and bring to a boil. Add the cabbage and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the diced carrot and fennel. Cook for a couple minutes, then add the celery and cook a few more minutes. Add the onions, leeks and squash. Cook the soup until the vegetables have begun to disassemble themselves, about an 1 hour, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Once cooked, cool the soup and refrigerate to serve the next day, or cool to room temperature before serving.
To serve, ladle a large scoop of soup into a bowl and top with a generous slick of fresh, peppery olive oil and a large sprinkle of fresh herbs. Serve with crusty bread on the side.
This soup is even better the next day. I like it just slightly warmer than room temp.