Tuscan Bean and Lentil Soup – Zuppa Toscano

This is a glorious hearty soup with a bit of Italian Sausage, some smoky bacon, beans, lentils, cauliflower and your favorite hearty vegetables. I have topped it with some fresh chopped herbs and some robust exceptional Franci Villa Magra Olive oil which is a robust and peppery extra virgin olive oil from the region. Feel free to add some grated Parmesan and don’t forget the crusty bread and the red wine!!

You will need:

  • 2 slices of smokey bacon
  • 2 fresh hot Italian sausages – casings removed
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil – like Amelia Oil from Umbria
  • 2 leeks- washed and cut into large pieces
  • 1 carrot- washed stem end removed – chopped into large pieces
  • 1 stalk celery -washed cut into large pieces
  • 4 cloves garlic – peeled
  • 1 small onion – peel and chopped into large pieces
  • 1 tbsp dry Italian seasonings – mine has chili flakes in it if yours does not add 1/2 tsp
  • lots of salt and pepper – you will need to taste and re-adjust a few times while cooking
  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • 1 small can 14oz of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 small can 14 oz of cannelini beans
  • 1/2 cup french green lentils
  • 1/2 small savoy cabbage – sliced
  • 5 or 6 cauliflower florets – sliced thin
  • a handful of fresh basil leaves, chives and parsley – chopped fine
  • a drizzle of great extra virgin olive oil – like a robust and peppery Franci Villa Magra
  • Parmesano Reggiano cheese – freshly grated at serving
  • a glass of red wine and a heel of crusty bread

Step 1: in a food processor add peeled sausages (casings removed) and bacon – you can place them in the food processor uncooked or cooked. I had some left from the previous dinner.  Puree until finely minced.

Step 2: in a large pot with a drizzle of good oil (ok, I always use a glug!) cook the bacon and sausages until they are crunchy and browned a bit.

Step 3: add leeks, carrot, celery, garlic and onion into food processor pulse a few times until fine but there is still a bit of consistency to the vegetables left. Do not completely puree.

Step 4: add vegetable mix to hot pan and cook for 5 minutes to saute vegetables and cook off most of the water. Add Italian seasonings, hot chili flakes and a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper. You can and should taste after it has cooked for 30 minutes to re-adjust seasonings if necessary.

Step 5: add chicken stock (or a bottle of beer would work well here) and crushed tomatoes. Stir and add lentils. Cook on low heat (nice steady blip not a heavy boil here!) for 30 minutes.

Step 6: add sliced cabbage, cannelini beans, and cauliflower sliced. Cook another 20 minutes. Add a bit of water if you find it too thick. It should be a hearty bowl of soup though. Taste it and adjust as necessary for salt and pepper. You can also add Kale or chard to this kind of soup.

Step 7: finely chop fresh herbs and add to some extra virgin olive oil like Franci -Villa Magra this is a big robust and peppery olive oil and perfect added at the end as a drizzle.

Serve with a spoon of chopped herbs and a good glug of extra virgin olive oil and a fresh grating of Parmesan. Get the bread and wine and enjoy!! It is hearty and warming with a hint of smokiness.

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