Minestrone alla contadina (Tuscan Minestrone - Country Style)

3:10 pm on 8 April 2011

Ingredients

  • 350g dried haricot beans
  • 1 x 1cm thick slice of pancetta
  • 1 large red onion
  • 1 celery rib
  • 2 large cloves garlic, peeled
  • 10 sprigs Italian parsley, chopped
  • 125ml virgin olive oil (half for sauteing vegetables and half for toasting ciabatta)
  • 1 bunch cavolo nero
  • 1 medium potato
  • 1 small tin of Italian tomatoes
  • 1 small bunch swiss chard
  • 3 litres chicken stock
  • 6 slices ciabatta (torn into chunks and toasted in the oven with olive oil and a crushed garlic clove until golden and crispy)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Soak the beans overnight in a bowl of cold water. Next day, drain the beans and cook them in a large pot with 3 litres of salted water. As the beans absorb water, keep adding hot water to maintain 3 litres of liquid at the end of the cooking time. When beans are tender (about 1 hour) remove from the flame and let stand until needed. (Strain before adding to soup)

Coarsely chop the pancetta, onion, celery, garlic and parsley and saute them in a stockpot with half the olive oil for 12 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, finely slice the cavolo nero, remove the stem from the silverbeet and cut into small pieces, peel the potato and cut it into small squares.

Add the potato to the stockpot, along with the tomatoes. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock, bring to boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the cooked haricot beans along with the swiss chard, cavolo nero and parsley.

Pass two-thirds of the beans through a food mill into the stockpot. Simmer together for about 30 minutes. Check seasoning and serve with the ciabatta and additional extra virgin olive oil.

Ribollita -  Reboiled’ Tuscan Minestrone

Minestrone is usually made in large quantites so there will be enough left over the next day to make ribollita.

Overnight the minestrone will thicken even further. Heat it, and allow to boil for about 1 minute. Ladle into individual bowls and pour 2 teaspoons of good olive oil over each serving.

From Jesse Mulligan, 1–4pm

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