Karen uses Anasazi beans which are a variety of bean related to the Pinto bean. These lovely burgundy and white beans are an heirloom variety first cultivated in the American Southwest in the Four Corners region of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah by the Anasazi or Ancient Ones. Anasazi beans are a sweeter and mealier bean, and contain less of the gas-causing carbohydrates of many other beans of this class.
This delicious Tuscan-Style Vegetable Soup recipe, comments, and photo was shared with my by Karen Calanchini, Food Stylist and Photographer, of Redding, CA.
- 1 cup dried beans (such as Anasazi or Orca beans)*
- Water (to cook beans in)
- 1 bunch of Rainbow Swiss Chard**
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 celery stocks with leaves, sliced
- 1 Serrano chil pepper, seeded and diced
- 1 sweet green chile pepper (such as Jimmy Nardello chile pepper), seeded and diced
- 4 to 6 garlic cloves, diced
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon Herbs de Provence***
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 4 to 5 Parmesan Cheese (Parmigiano-Reggiano) cheese rinds*
- 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes, fire-roasted, with juice
- 3 (26-ounce) boxes chicken stock
- 1 (15-ounce) can cannelloni beans, drained
- 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
- 1 medium zucchini squash, chopped into bite-size chunks
- 3/4 cup barley (I buy the large barley that is usually found at health food store or grain mills)
- 1/2 cup basil, chiffonade
- 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
- Thick bread slices, light-toasted and rubbed with clove of fresh garlic (1 toasted bread slice for each person)
- Parmesan Cheese (Parmigiano-Reggiano), for garnish
Place the dried beans into a large pot. Soak the beans at least 3 hours or overnight in warm water (this will help to soften them). In the morning drain off the water, and just cover with clean water. Bring the water just to a boil. Turn down the heat to medium low and cook until the beans are soft and just almost done, approximately 1 to 1 1/2 hours. To check if beans are done, bite into a couple of the beans. When done, remove from heat and drain; set aside.
Rinse the stems and leaves of the Swiss Chard well. Trim the stems from the Swiss Chard, discarding any that are wilted. Cut up the thick stems crosswise into slices, 1/2-inch thick. Very coarsely chop the leaves of the chard; set aside.
In a 6-quart soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add the olive oil. Add the cut up Swiss Chard stems, onion, celery, and chile peppers; saute until the onions begin to soften. Add the garlic, Herbs de Provence, and red pepper flakes; saute until fragrant.
Add the cheese rinds. Stir in the tomatoes (with juice) and add the chopped Swiss Chard leaves; Stir and cook approximately 6 to 7 minutes until the leaves just begin to wilt.
Add the chicken stock, cooked dried beans, cannelloni beans, carrots, zucchini squash, and barley.
NOTE: If desired, take 1/4 cup of the cooked dried beans and mash them before adding to the soup. This will help thicken and flavor the soup. Stir the soup well. Bring the soup just to a boil, stir again, and then reduce heat to low and let simmer until the barley and vegetables are cooked, approximately 30 to 40 minutes.
After cooking, remove the cheese rinds, add the basil and parsley; stir well. Taste soup and adjust seasonings if necessary.
To serve, place a toasted bread slice on the bottom of each soup bowl. Ladle in the soup and sprinkle the Parmigian-Reggiano cheese over the top.
* Karen purchases her Anasazi beans and other heirloom dried beans from Purcell Mountain Farm which is a family-operated farm located above the Kootenai River Valley at the foothills of the Purcell Mountain Range. It is nestled in the Northeastern-most part of Idaho. Karen says, “I love their dried beans because they come from the farm directly to you. Their service is excellent and fast. Because their dried beans are so fresh, I have never had to soak any of the varieties I have tried. They usually cook within an hour and are ready to add to your recipe.”
** Swiss Chard - Also known as chard or silver beet, it is one of several leafy vegetables commonly referred to as greens. This tall plant is a member of the beet family. It is grown for both its tender green leaves and celery-like stalks. Similar in flavor to spinach and beets, chard is pungent, bitter and slightly salty. Choose bunches with dark green leaves and vividly colored stems. Leaves and stems should feel crisp and smell fresh and earthy.
*** Herbs de Provence may be purchased where herbs and spices are sold in your local grocery store. Herbes de Provence combines sweet French herbs and lavender with Italian herbs and fennel.
**** When you purchase Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, cut a chunk you need and save the rinds. The rinds can be used to add flavor to soups, stews, and pasta sauces. I store the rinds in a freezer bag and just freeze.