- 12 ounces dried navy or cannellini beans (or 3 [15-ounce] cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained)
- 3 medium carrots, divided
- 2 medium onions, peeled
- 4 celery stalks
- 5 garlic cloves
- 2 large red-skinned potatoes
- 12 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth to make this vegetarian)
- 2 zucchini, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 3 cups baby spinach, well washed
- 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1-1/2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
- 1/2 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh rosemary leaves
- Kosher or sea salt, to taste
- Parmesan cheese, to taste
- Pick through the dried beans and remove any broken beans or small pebbles (beans are mechanically harvested and sometimes carry along debris). Place the beans in an 8-quart (or very large) pot and cover with water by 3 inches. Toss in 1 of the carrots, 1 of the onions, and 2 of the celery stalks. Cover the pot and bring the liquid to a boil over medium-high heat. Uncover the pot, stir, and continue to boil for 2 minutes. Cover the pot and turn off the heat. Allow the beans to sit in the hot liquid undisturbed for 1 hour.
- Drain the beans in a colander. Remove the carrot, celery, and onion, then rinse and drain the beans again. Rinse out the cooking pot. Pour the beans back into the pot and fill with enough water to cover the beans by 2 inches. Cover, bring to a simmer, then uncover and simmer for 1 hour. Drain and rinse the beans and return them to the cooking pot.
- Chop the remaining carrots, onion, and celery stalks into small pieces, mince or press the garlic, and cut the potato into 1-inch cubes. Add the vegetables to the beans.
- Add the chicken broth. Cover and bring to a gentle simmer, then uncover and simmer for 1 hour (or, if using canned beans, simmer just 15 minutes), then mash slightly with a potato masher or with an immersion blender — just enough to leave half of the vegetables whole and the soup chunky.
- Add the zucchini, spinach, tomatoes, red pepper flakes, thyme, and rosemary. Cover the pot and bring the soup to a simmer. Remove the cover and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Taste and season with salt, if desired.
- Ladle the soup into bowls and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. This keeps for up to three days in the refrigerator (the flavor is even better on day three).
More from Learn to Cook 25 Southern Classics 3 Ways:• Southern Classic Pinto Beans Recipe • Kryptonite Pimento Cheese Recipe • Hungarian Chicken Paprikash with Dumplings Recipe
From Learn to Cook 25 Southern Classics 3 Ways: Traditional, Contemporary, International by Jennifer Brulé. Copyright © 2016 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher.
Learn to Cook 25 Southern Classics 3 Ways (University of North Carolina Press, 2016), by Jennifer Brule features classic recipes that can be prepared 3 different ways. In the following recipes, readers are encouraged to learn the basics of cooking, and then expand on them by using contemporary and international inspiration through ingredients or cooking techniques to make variations of the classic recipes.
Mangiafagioli is a common term referring to people from Tuscany, Italy. The term means “bean eaters,” and indeed they are. Bean dishes in Tuscany are simply amazing! They are usually simple to prepare, with just a few ingredients, and are always delicious. Soaking beans overnight will result in the best texture, but the quick-cook method works well too. In case you need to get dinner on the table fast, this recipe explains how to use canned white beans (acceptable in a pinch). Just pick up the recipe in step 3.