Last night I was given some Italian bread, which was leftover from a catering job. Most people wouldn’t be too excited with a gift of bread that would almost stale, however most people haven’t recently been to the Chianti region in Tuscany. If you haven’t figured it out yet, it was my husband and I that were lucky enough to spend a week in Tuscany earlier this year.
During our stay we spent some time in a small town called Greve. It was here where I was introduced to the traditional Tuscan bread and bean soup.
Last night this almost stale bread reminded me of a lovely night we had in Greve, where we were warmly welcomed by locals and carafes of house red. It was on this night that the Tuscan bread and bean soup caught my attention. A soup made with soggy bread, cabbage, a mix of veg and mushy beans – oh YUM! (Ok maybe this doesn’t sound too appealing for all of you)…
I have wanted to replicate this soup for such a long time, as I just loved the flavours and textures. I also have very fond memories of eating this soup and was excited to reminisce in my kitchen today.
To create my version of this mushy mix, I took some inspiration from a few different variations on the net and the memories and the one iphone photo that I have (below). I wasn't able to get any cabbage, so opted for kale instead. Although my version looks slightly more colourful with a different texture, it certainly tastes similar and just as delicious.
To make it more like the original just let it simmer on the stove top for longer so all of the ingredients just mush together!
2 tables spoons of extra virgin olive oil for cooking (and extra for drizzling when ready to serve)
2 medium carrots, diced
4 celery stalks, diced
2 onions, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
The leaves from 3 stems of kale, finely chopped (you can also use cabbage)
1 large can (400g) of cannellini beans
1 large can (400g) of kidney beans
1 large can (400g) of diced tomatoes
8 springs of thyme
2 bay leaves
6 cups of water
Approximately 3 cups of stale ciabatta bread (or another firm bread such as sour dough), diced into cubes
1 bunch of basil, leaves picked
Salt and pepper to season
Heat olive oil over a medium heat.
Add carrots, celery and onion and cook for approximately 10 minutes, until tender.
Add garlic and stir through for approximately 1 minute.
Add kale, beans, tomatoes, thyme, bay leaves and water then season with salt and pepper.
Reduce to a simmer and cover for 20-30 minutes.
Add 2 cups of the diced bread and most of the basil leaves (spare some to garnish) and simmer, covered for 10 minutes.
Remove bay leaves and thyme stems.
Serve in bowls and top with remaining diced bread, basil and a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Enjoy with someone that you love!