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Print this Recipe    Tuscan 05

Tuscan-Style Minestrone
Makes 12 Servings

3 quarts water
1/2 head of cabbage, preferably Savoy
1 large red onion, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 large carrot, sliced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 bunch kale, stems removed and leaves cut into strips, about 3 cups
1 large waxy potato, peeled and cut into one half inch cubes
6 cups chicken broth, bean-cooking water, or fresh water
4 medium-size tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped, or 1 cup drained
and seeded canned tomatoes

1 bouquet garni: 1 fresh rosemary sprig, 8 fresh thyme sprigs, and 1
bunch of parsley

1 cup dried cannellini or borlotti beans, soaked and cooked, about 3 cups
1 bunch spinach, stems removed and leaves cut into strips, about 1 cup packed
Salt and pepper
Slices of French bread, either stale or lightly toasted
Grated Parmesan cheese

Bring the water to a rolling boil. Cut the cabbage into quarters
through the core. Cut the core out of two of the quarters and
slice them as thinly as possible. Boil the sliced cabbage for 5
minutes and drain it in a colander. Rinse it with cold water.
(This preliminary cooking eliminates some of the strong taste and
prevents it from taking over the flavor of the soup.)

In a 4-quart pot, cook the onion, celery, garlic, and carrot in
the olive oil over medium heat until softened, about 10 minutes.
Add the blanched cabbage, kale, potato, broth, tomatoes, and bouquet
garni. Bring the soup to a gentle simmer and cook for 10 to 15
minutes, until the potatoes are soft.

Strain half the cooked beans through a food mill with the finest
disk or puree them in a blender or food processor. Add the puree
and the whole beans to the simmering soup.

Simmer the soup for about 5 minutes more. Add spinach. Simmer
soup for 1 minute more. Add salt and pepper to taste.

The soup can now be ladled into hot bowls, but if you want to
present it in the traditional (and make it suitable for a next-day
ribolita or casserole), layer it in a tureen with the bread slices
alternating a ladle of soup with a slice of bread and let it sit
for 10 minutes before serving. Pass the cheese at the table.

Suggestions and variations: If you make the thick layered-bread
version of this soup, it is delicious the next day served as a
casserole with a light salad. Spread the cold congealed soup in
a porcelain or glass casserole; sprinkle it with grated Parmesan
cheese and some olive oil. Bake the casserole at 350 degrees for
20 to 30 minutes.

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