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Italian Bean Soup: seasonal and simple to make

October 25, 2013

borlottiitalian bean soup

Italian bean soup can be very addictive. You can adapt this to suit your taste, adding basil instead of rosemary, fennel instead of cavolo nero. This is one of my favourite soups, taking over from Pistou once the summer (with its gluts of basil and green beans) has ended. It can be made in one large saucepan – a medium-large Le Creuset is perfect for the gentle simmering this needs.

Borlotti beans have made an appearance in my veg box – for which I am grateful. In the past I have stowed bags of them away in my handluggage on journeys back from Italy – so this is a whole lot easier. If Borlotti beans are not to hand, then use another white bean such as Cannellini or Haricot. Some supermarkets are now selling cartons of pre-cooked Borlotti beans

I don’t tend to use specific measurements when making soup – so these will be approximate.

bean soup ingredients

1 onion, chopped finely

3 large cloves garlic, chopped finely

Half a red pepper, sliced into short pieces

6 large tomatoes, chopped roughly

Olive oil (or sunflower) – be generous with this as it really adds to the flavour

Half a vegetable stock cube dissolved in a mug of boiled water

2 large handfuls of Borlotti pods – shelled and uncooked

1 sprig of rosemary – chopped finely and a scant teaspoon of dried thyme (or a small sprig of this put straight in the pan)

About 8-10 leaves of cavolo nero (very dark green tall, thin kale – more tasty that the others), sliced into strips



1. Gently fry the onion and garlic in oil, adding the red pepper and herbs after about 5 minutes.

2. Add the tomatoes and simmer for about 5 minutes till softened

3. Set aside most of this mix, leaving a little in the pan

4. Add the beans with the stock and a second mug of water and boil, then simmer, covered, at a medium temperature for 25-30 minutes, adding in the cavolo nero for the last 8-10 minutes

5. Then add the tomato mix back into the pan and simmer gently for a further 5 minutes, adding a sprinkling of fine-chopped rosemary and a little salt to taste and black pepper.

This is substantial enough to eat on its own, without bread.

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