Many thanks to Julia in the UK for this delightful recipe. It comes from the 1998 version of Mark Bittman’s cookbook How to Cook Everything (I like that title, the volume sounds so . . . thorough!). The contributor mentioned that Bittman has changed his recipe over the years, but that this is her family’s favorite. We can see why–it is completely delicious. As she said, “The fresh rosemary and parsley, along with the parmesan, make for a really tasty soup.”
4 T / 60 ml extra virgin olive oil (opt: more to serve, drizzled on top. We didn’t.)
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 c / 700 g kidney, cannellini (also called “white kidney”), or borlotti beans, cooked
(I used 2 cans / tins, one red kidney beans, one cannellini. Rinse and drain.)
2 c / 450 g cored, peeled, seeded, and diced tomatoes (can substitute a can / 400 g tin of diced tomatoes, notes Julia, but “fresh can’t be beat”: I agree!)
6-8 c / 1.5-2 L good vegetable stock (used this one)
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1/2 pound / 250 g tubettini or other small pasta
1/2 c / 100 g fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 c / 100g fresh parmesan, grated (try flaked!)
First, the fresh tomatoes. What I did: cut a small X on the base of 4-5 ripe tomatoes and sink them in a pot of boiling water for about twenty seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon, the peels should slip right off. Cut the peeled tomatoes in half horizontally and squeeze out the seeds (or scoop out with your finger). Core and roughly chop.
Heat 4 T / 60 ml of the olive oil in a deep saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and half of the garlic, cook until onion softens, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.
Add the rosemary, beans, and tomatoes and cook, mashing the tomatoes a bit with the spoon, until warm and tomatoes begin to break down, about 10 minutes. Add 6 c / 1.5 L of stock (or water) and salt and pepper to taste. Raise the heat to medium-high, bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 10 minutes. (Julia mentioned that the soup can be prepared in advance to this point and refrigerated for a day or two before proceeding. I haven’t tried this. Yet.)
Sprinkle with remaining parsley and serve, passing the parmesan at the table. We enjoyed it with Tuscan bread, painted with olive oil and placed under a hot broiler / grill for about five minutes. Wonderful!