I met Sonia through my husband, and I quickly discovered that she was an extraordinary cook. (She was married to my husband's best friend, and both men had worked for the United States Forest Service.) Visits to Sonia's home were always a culinary treat. When I asked Sonia for a bean soup recipe that she had described, she graciously sent the recipe below.
"I grew up in a family with a mother who was a terrific cook and a father who was in the restaurant business (his meats were incredibly succulent.) Both parents were from Bulgaria, and my mother specialized in foods from her homeland. In contrast, I shared my hometown in South San Francisco with a large Italian population—so we added many pasta dishes to our dinner table.
But even with that background, I had very little cooking experience when I married! Instead of being in the kitchen, I had spent my time practicing at the piano. Because my husband loved my parents’ cooking, I quickly learned the family recipes. Over the years, like my parents, I too have become a good cook specializing in foods from my heritage, France and Italy.
In 2005, while visiting Tuscany, my husband and I had two dinners at a restaurant in Vagliagli that friends had recommended. This bean soup was one of their specialties. I wrote down what I saw in the soup. As we left, we talked with the chef, who helped me with the ingredients. I modified the recipe by adding garlic, and I've been making this soup for friends, many who now have the recipe. Enjoy!
Tuscan Bean Soup - Serves 6
- 3 cups dried cannellini (or great northern) beans
- 2 red onions, diced
- 4 stalks celery, sliced
- 2/3 bunch Swiss chard, stalks sliced and leaves cut into 2-inch squares (about 2 cups)
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 50 ounces chicken or vegetable broth
- 1/2 head Savoy cabbage, cut into 2-inch squares
- 8 baby peeled carrots, cut into small chunks
- 12 garlic cloves, roasted
- Parmesan cheese, grated
Cover the beans with boiling water. Soak for one hour and rinse. Sauté the onions, celery and Swiss chard stalks in the olive oil until translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the Swiss chard leaves and sauté 5 minutes. Add the broth. When the liquid comes to a boil, add the beans.
After 30 minutes, add the Savoy cabbage and carrots. When the beans are just about done (another 30 minutes or so,) add the garlic and simmer the soup for another 15 to 30 minutes. Serve with grated Parmesan."
Thank you, Sonia, for sharing this recipe. What a wonderful evening supper this soup makes!
P.S. Do you have a recipe to share?
- Carole Carson