Many years ago we arrived in Tuscany at the dead of night to our rented farmhouse, which was nestled on its own down a very long track. We were tired and hungry and when we stumbled in we found a note scribbled on a piece of paper alluding to some supper on the stove. Wandering over to the hob we found a white bean soup waiting for us. It was hearty and warming with garlic and tomato undertones. I suppose it wasn’t dissimilar to a grown-ups version of baked beans.
It was exactly the kind of comfort food we craved after a day of travelling. I never managed to get the exact recipe but have tried to replicate it as best I could ever since. I think this version works pretty well. I tend to always opt for white beans in a glass jar – this variety works for me and I pick it up at a local middle eastern grocers near me. Sometimes I add rosemary and other times not.
Bay leaves though are essential and add a lovely flavour to the soup. I also prefer to use fresh tomatoes, but if you are out, tinned will suffice. The trick is to put it on a low heat for 30-40 minutes if you can. You want the garlic to be completely soft and the liquid to have reduced a fair amount.
With all the excess that December will bring I thought this soup was a good one to throw into the mix.
Tuscan White Bean Soup
2 tbsp olive oil
9 whole garlic cloves, peeled
2 bay leaves
650g fresh tomatoes, diced
2x400g jar of white beans
1 tsp tomato puree (optional)
300ml vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste
- Heat the olive oil in a pan and add the garlic cloves. Move around the pan for 30 seconds before adding the bay leaves and then add the fresh tomatoes.
- Allow the tomatoes to soften for a few minutes before adding the white beans.
- Add the vegetable stock, salt and pepper and leave on a low flame with the lid on, stirring from time to time.
- Remove the lid half way through cooking to allow the liquid to thicken. You can add more liquid if you prefer it more soupy. I tend to like mine thickish but still of soup consistency.
- When the garlic’s are soft and the liquid has been absorbed a little, turn off the heat and allow to rest.
This is great eaten the following day as well when the flavours have relaxed into one another.