Minestra Di Campagna (Country Soup)

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Prep:

This very-nearly fat-free(depending upon how much reggiano you grate on your bowl, and whether you choose to drizzle some of your special extra-virgin oil on the top)and vegetarian soup came from Sicily via, I think, Bon Appetit Magazine some years ago. It is so simple and unadorned that it is hard to believe how good it is. And if you make a lot, it only gets better as you reheat it. The cooking time/prep time estimates do not include the overnight soaking of the beans.

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Ingredients [?]

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  • add   1/2 cup dried great northern beans or cannellini beans (If you can't find fava beans, use all small white beans--which will also reduce prep time)
  • add   8 ounces savoy cabbage, cut into 1 inch pieces (about 4 cups--loosely packed, don't substitute regular cabbage)
  • add   1/2 cup dried fava beans
  • add   1/2 head bibb lettuce, cut into 1 inch pieces (about 2 cups--loosely packed)
  • add   1 stalk celery
  • add   1 large onion
  • add   6 cups water
  • add   freshly grated parmesan cheese (optional)
  • add   extra virgin olive oil (optional)
  • add   salt & fresh ground pepper
  • add   1 good sized carrot

Instructions

  1. Place fava beans in a medium saucepan and cover by three inches with cold water.
  2. Place white beans in a large bowl and cover by three inches of cold water.
  3. Allow both containers of beans to soak overnight.
  4. If using fava beans:.
  5. Place saucepan of fava beans over medium heat, bring to a boil and allow to bubble for about five minutes.
  6. Drain fava beans, and, when cool enough to handle, slit the skin and peel off the outer skin of each bean.
  7. Discard the peelings.
  8. Drain the white beans.
  9. Bring 6 cups of water to boil in a large pot.
  10. To the boiling water add all the beans, the onion, carrot and celery.
  11. Partially cover and simmer over medium (or medium low) heat until beans are almost done-- about 30 to 45 minutes.
  12. Add cabbage and lettuce; partially cover and simmer for at least an hour, or until beans are tender.
  13. (Note: At this point, I ladle out a good sized portion for a friend who is on a low-sodium regimen. With a little Reggiano grated on top, she finds this soup delicious without any seasoning.).
  14. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.
  15. Ladle into bowls.
  16. Grate some fresh parmesan on the top and, if you like, drizzle with some good extra virgin olive oil.