As the temperature starts to drop gradually and the evenings are longer I am starting to want to be in the kitchen more and more, however, I am also missing all the pots, pans and tools I am so use to reaching for without a moments thought. We were at the supermarket the other day and I spotted some young cavolo nero which got me thinking of Tuscan soup, which then made me wander over to the meat section and pick out a good piece of speck. I may not have my food processors or mixers with me but I do whip up a pretty good Tuscan bean soup.
I’m not sure if the locals would agree, so when I was asked the other day what I was making I stuck with ‘Oh just a bean and vegetable soup’- what a wimp I am! For a split second I wanted to say Tuscan bean soup but then what if they tasted it and said “This isn’t Tuscan!?” That to me would be a big ego punch and I am not quite ready for that right now, therefor, I am calling it my bean and veggie soup that just happens to taste, so, so yummy and maybe, just maybe even a little bit Tuscan?
I love the way the speck looks raw, not sure why, maybe it is the thought of those yummy sweet meat smells combined with onion and olive oil on a low heat that sends me salivating?
Whatever it is, I am a big fan. Ok, so once I have all my veggies chopped into small cubes (I mean you need to put a little bit of effort in here because you will see the end result when eating) and my beans all cooked off I then check out how the speck and onions are going before I add all the veggies and garlic.
When you’re building flavours the best thing to do is layer your cooking so you lock in every flavour to compliment all the others, there is no point throwing it all together and then waiting for something amazing to happen- it wont!
Because the onions and speck have been simmering slowly in the olive oil, the oil tastes delicious and is ready to attach itself to all the new veggies I am adding and creating a really flavoursome soup.
On a quick side note: I soak my cannellini beans the night before in cold water, throw out the water and then bring them to a boil with new cold water the following day and without salt because I read somewhere that salt makes the beans tough.
Right, now that all the veggies are in and starting to warm I add thinly sliced garlic, a couple pieces of parmesan rind, salt and pepper. The kitchen smells fabulous and hunger pangs kick in so then add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Once it has come to the boil, simmer for about 5 minutes and then throw in the pre cooked beans, small diced potatoes and simmer again for another 5 minutes to cook the potatoes.
When everything is finished I like to leave the soup for a day so the flavours can meld together. When serving I add a few chilli flakes and a good grate of parmesan cheese for extreme yumminess and as you can see, you really do have mountains of delicious and healthy soup everyone will love.