Zuppa alla Frantoiana

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

Serves 6-8

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

To serve:

  • 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.