This Tuscan borlotti bean soup is a quick and healthy taste of Italy.
Italian cuisine is based on excellent, fresh, seasonal produce. This is why there is so much variety in food from region to region. Years ago, when I used to live in Italy, my friends and I loved travelling round the country, sampling the specialities of each region. The dishes changed according to season, so this was an activity we never tired of. I have never had such delicious oranges as those in Sicily, or the famous lemons of Amalfi, the sweetest pears and figs from my aunt’s garden in Tuscany…
Without these fantastic ingredients outside of Italy, it is often difficult to replicate the amazing flavours of Italian cuisine. (It is even said that the best coffee and pizza is from Naples because of the good volcanic water in the region.)
I was thrilled when one of my favourite brands, Cirio, sent me a parcel of some of their products to review. Their products really preserve the freshness of some of Italy’s fine ingredients, bringing the delicious taste of Italy to us. I use their tinned tomatoes a great deal as the quality is so good that very little effort is required to make a tasty sauce.
(Disclaimer: Cirio sent me these beans to review, I was not paid and all opinions are my own.)
Cirio sent me tins of two types of beans: borlotti (cranberry beans) and cannellini (white beans). My mother is from Florence, and Florentines are known for their recipes using beans. A simple and cheap ingredient, beans are also high in nutritional value.
Cooking with dried beans is quite time-consuming with the soaking and the cooking times, so these cans of steamed and ready to eat beans are perfect to make Tuscan borlotti bean soup, and Tuscan cannellini bean soup. The texture of these beans is perfect and they have a lovely delicate taste.
For this bean soup, I have used Cirio Borlotti beans and a portion of their rich and flavoursome tomato purée. There are no preservatives in the can of beans, so I have used the bean liquid which is really just a slightly salty, starchy water with a delicious bean flavour. It will contribute beautifully to the soup.
Italian cuisine is well-known for keeping things simple by using few ingredients as having amazing produce, comes an understanding of how these fresh flavours work well together.
- The base of the soup is a soffritto which is softened (not sautéed) till slightly golden on a low heat
- Salt is added to draw the moisture from the vegetables
- Mix in the sage leaves to help release their flavour (See Tips for storing herbs to ensure you always have herbs on hand)
- Do not discard the bean water (this is important) as it will add flavour
- Cook the soup slowly on low heat to release the flavours
- Stir in the tomato paste and after 2 minutes turn off the heat.
- Serve with a swirl of olive oil and a grating of Parmesan cheese
Tuscan borlotti bean soup
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 stalk celery diced small
- 1 medium carrot diced small
- 1 medium onion diced small
- 2 sage leaves
- 2 150g/5oz tins Cirio Borlotti beans drain beans and reserve their liquid
- 1 teaspoon Cirio tomato paste
- salt and pepper to taste
- Parmesan cheese to garnish
- olive oil to garnish
In a medium pan, on low to medium heat, sweat the soffritto of diced celery, carrot and onion. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Cover and allow to cook till soft and slightly golden. Add the sage leaves and mix. Set aside 1/3 of the drained beans and add the rest to the pan. Stir for a minute or two to heat through and blend. Add the bean liquid and the rest of the beans. Bring to a boil, then quickly reduce heat and allow to cook for 10 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and after 2 minutes, turn off the heat. Adjust seasonings to your taste. Serve with a swirl of olive oil and a grating of Parmesan cheese.