Minestrone with Cannellini Beans
Cuisine: Italian
Author: Giulliano Bugialli
Ingredients
  • 1 Cup dried cannellini beans
  • 5 Cups water
  • 1 large clove garlic; peeled
  • 2 leaves fresh sage, or salt preserved sage
  • salt
  • fresh ground pepper
FOR THE SAUCE:
  • 2 medium red onions; cleaned
  • 2 medium carrots; scraped
  • 1 large clove garlic; peeled
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 10 sprigs fresh Italian parsley; leaves only
  • 10 leaves fresh basil, or salt preserved basil
  • 4 ounces pancetta or prosciutto
  • 5 Tablespoons olive oil
  • salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • large pinch dried red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh tomatoes, very ripe
  • or canned tomatoes; drained, preferably imported Italian
PLUS
  • 4 Cups chicken stock or meat stock; preferably homemade
  • 1 Cup white rice-preferably Italian Arborio
  • fresh basil leaves
Instructions
  1. Soak the beans in a bowl of cold water overnight.
  2. The next morning, drain the beans and place them in a medium-sized stockpot along with the 5 cups cold water, the garlic and sage. Set the pot over medium heat and when the water reaches a boil, lower the heat and simmer for about 45 minutes. By that time the beans should be cooked but still firm. Drain the beans, saving the water, and place the beans in a crockery or glass bowl. Sprinkle salt and pepper over them and cover the bowl until needed.
Prepare the sauce:
  1. Coarsely chop the onions, carrots, garlic, celery, parsley and basil all together on a board. Cut the pancetta into tiny pieces. Place a large casserole with the oil over low heat and when the oil is warm, add all the chopped vegetables and the herbs and pancetta. Sauté for 20 minutes, stirring every so often with a wooden spoon. Season with salt, pepper and the hot red pepper flakes.
  2. If using fresh tomatoes, blanch them, remove the skin and seeds and add them to the casserole; if using canned tomatoes, pass them through a food mill, using the disc with the smallest holes, directly into the casserole. Stir very well and simmer for 30 minutes more. When the sauce is ready, take 2 cups of it and pour it over the beans.
  3. Add to the casserole the water from the beans and the 4 cups of broth, and bring to a boil. Add the rice and cook for about 16 minutes. The rice should be completely cooked, not al dente as for risotto. Salt and pepper to taste, then add all the beans and sauce. Mix very well and simmer for 30 seconds more.
  4. Serve with fresh basil leaves.
Notes
A homey, substantial bean soup with tomatoes, vegetables and rice.

Valdarno, where this recipe originated, is part of the Arno Valley, which stretches from Arezzo, passing Florence, down to Pisa, and includes a number of historic towns. San Miniato, a hill town in the Florence-Pisa stretch of the valley, was an important capital of the Holy Roman Empire, and the ruins of Frederick Barbarossa's castle may be seen there. Perhaps Barbarossa picked this spot for his castle because it was one of the few places where fresh white truffles could be found.
Recipe by Epicurus.com Recipes at https://www.epicurus.com/food/recipes/minestrone-with-cannellini-beans/50249/