Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

January 24, 2022

© Frank Wieder

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Bread soup with cannellini beans and escarole (Zuppa di fagioli e scarola)

This hearty soup is a traditional dish from the countryside surrounding Naples.

14 oz. (435 g) dried cannellini beans (about 2 c./500 ml) pinch of baking soda

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 celery stick, chopped

4½ oz. (140 g) tomatoes, crushed

2 tbsp. (15 ml) olive oil

1 lb. 6 oz. (680 g) escarole, leaves separated and roughly chopped

8 thick slices of freshly toasted day-old Italian bread such as ciabatta or pane casereccio

generous handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked and chopped

salt and freshly ground pepper

Soak the beans overnight in plenty of cold water with a pinch of baking soda. Rinse well and transfer to a large saucepan. Cover with plenty of cold fresh water (about 5 cups/1.25 L).

Add the garlic, celery, tomatoes and oil. Season with salt and black pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 50 minutes or until the beans still have a slight bite to them, rather than being mushy. Skim off any froth that rises to the surface.

Just before the beans are cooked, blanch the escarole in a separate saucepan of salted boiling water for a few minutes until just wilted. Drain and add to the beans. Adjust the seasoning, if necessary.

To serve, lay 2 slices of the toasted bread in the bottom of each serving bowl, ladle the soup and sprinkle with parsley. Serves 4.

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