This hearty vegetable and bean soup is not unlike minestrone, only instead of pasta it is made with beans. Traditionally, the soup is ladled over a slice or two of bread but this can also be skipped for a lighter version. It is certainly packed with flavor and I recommend using really fresh / nice vegetables for the best taste.
Skip the parmesan and this dish is also vegan, and without the bread it is also gluten-free.
- 150 grams of dry cannellini beans (alternatively, borlotti or pinto beans), washed and soaked in cold water between between 8 to 12 hours
- 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 Spanish onion, peeled and quartered
- 2 large or 3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
- 2 to 3 celery stalks, greens removed and sliced
- 1 medium fennel bulb, core and stalks removed, quartered and sliced
- 2 large zucchinis, halved and sliced
- 400 grams of canned whole tomatoes
- ca. 1 liter of vegetable stock
- Salt, freshly ground pepper
- 200 to 250 grams of fresh young spinach
- Optional: a few sliced of stale white bread
- For serving: parmesan shavings, a few tablespoons of pesto (for a recipe, see: Pesto Alla Genovese)
- Rinse the beans under cold water, then put in a pot, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Let simmer for 30-45 minutes (try every now and then if the center is cooked). When fully cooked, strain and rinse with cold water, then set aside.
- Heat up the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.
- Tip in the onion, for a minute, then add the carrots, celery and fennel one after the other, each time frying the vegetables for approximately one minute.
- Reduce the heat to low, cover and let the vegetables steam in its own juices for approximately 20 minutes. Make sure they are not frying anymore at that point.
- When the vegetables are softening, add the zucchini. Increase the heat to medium again and cook for 5 minutes, stirring them regularly.
- Then add the tomatoes and the juice from the can as well as the stock. Season to taste with freshly ground pepper. Bring to the boil, then cover and let simmer on low heat for around 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, add the beans and bring the soup to a boil again, then simmer for 2-3 minutes. Finally add the spinach, gently stir all ingredients until nicely mixed and simmer for another minute.
- Taste and if required, season with more pepper and salt (to taste).
- Optional: Place a slice of bread on the bottom of a soup bowl.
- Ladle the soup into the bowls (over the bread, depending on your preference).
- Serve with parmesan shavings and a teaspoon of pesto.