Tuscan cuisine focuses on fresh, healthy ingredients and uncomplicated cooking techniques to make traditionally delicious fare. These are dishes – like this colourful bean soup – that you can easily duplicate in your own kitchen.
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 onions, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, coarsely chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
450 ml reduced-salt chicken stock
1 large can (810 g) no-salt-added crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 can (420 g) red kidney beans
1 can (400 g) borlotti beans
1 can (400 g) chickpeas
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
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Heat the oil in a large nonstick saucepan over medium-high heat. Sauté the onions, carrots and celery until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes in puree, basil and oregano. Bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, partially cover, and cook for 10 minutes.
Place the kidney and borlotti beans and the chickpeas in a colander; rinse and drain. Stir them into the soup. Cook until the flavours develop, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Very coarsely puree about a quarter of the soup using a hand-held blender. Or transfer about 2 cups soup to a blender or food processor, very coarsely puree, and return to the pan. Serve 2 cups soup per person topped with 1 tablespoon of the freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
Chunks of vegetables and plenty of beans make this soup rich in fibre. Beans are high in soluble fibre – the type that seems to control blood cholesterol in certain people by lowering LDL (the ‘bad’ cholesterol). Carrots, celery and other vegetables contribute mostly insoluble fibre, which helps the intestines maintain regularity. * Remember, canned beans have salt added, so be sure to rinse them several times before adding them to the saucepan.