tuscan white bean soup

Did I discover this recipe in Tuscany?  No, but cannellini beans are very common in Tuscan food and I think calling this “Tuscan” makes it sound fancier.  It doesn’t matter what you call this soup , it’s hearty, warming and delicious.  This also freezes well.  I always have a container of this in the freezer on standby for a quick and easy meal.

1 lb dried northern or cannellini beans
2 cups diced carrots
2 cups diced onion
2 cups diced celery
5 cups chopped fresh kale (or other dark leafy green)
5 cloves of garlic
4 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 lb chopped uncured ham steak
4 cups chicken stock
4 cups water
1.5 tsp liquid smoke
2 stems of thyme
1 tbs dried marjoram
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tbs salt
1 tbs pepper
parmigiano reggiano

  1. Rinse and sort the beans, looking for pebbles (trust me, this step is worth it).
  2. Put the beans in a large bowl or pot, cover with water 2 inches over the beans and soak overnight.  You can speed this step up by covering the beans with boiling water and letting them soak for an hour.
  3. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large pot.  Add in carrots, onions and celery and cook until softened.
  4. Add the minced garlic and continue cooking for another 2 minutes.
  5. Add the drained and rinsed beans to the pot along with ham steak, chicken stock, water, liquid smoke, thyme, marjoram and both peppers.
  6. Set the temperature to medium-high heat and bring the soup to a low boil.  Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 90 minutes or until beans are tender.
  7. Remove the sprigs of thyme and add salt to taste.  Add chopped kale and cook for 2-3 minutes more until the kale is wilted.
  8. Serve with freshly grated parmigiano reggiano.
  9. Try to save some for later.

Thoughts?