Dip your ladle into this recipe for a taste of Northern Italy. Dried white beans get cooked with vegetable stock, Parmesan cheese rinds, and onion halves. The Parmesan rind flavor really comes through in the finished soup, and the tomatoes, lemon zest, and baby spinach which get stirred in later give the umami-rich beans a nice pop of brightness. The results are full-bodied, but in no way muddy or earthy. Non-vegetarians can certainly add some thinly sliced prosciutto to the soup right at the end, but this meat-free offering is hearty enough to satisfy even the most carnivorous souls.
1 package poultry herb mix (5 sprigs each sage, rosemary, and thyme)
4 cups dried white beans (1½ lb.), soaked 8 hours or overnight
8 cups water
4 cups unsalted vegetable stock
6 ounces Parmesan cheese rinds
1 yellow onion, halved vertically
2 teaspoons kosher salt
5 cups baby spinach (about 6 oz.)
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
2 teaspoons lemon zest
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about ½ cup)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
How to Make It
Tie together poultry herb mix with kitchen twine. Place soaked beans, herbs, water, stock, cheese rinds, and onion halves in a large Dutch oven, and bring to a boil over high. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer 1 hour. Stir in salt; cover and simmer until beans are very tender, 30 to 45 more minutes. Remove and discard rinds, or reserve for another use. Stir in spinach, tomatoes, zest, and pepper. Simmer, uncovered, until greens are wilted, 3 to 4 minutes. Spoon into shallow bowls. Top with grated Parmesan and chopped parsley.
Total time includes 8 hours soaking.
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