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Hearty Tuscan Bean Stew

When I was at home over the end of year holidays, I picked up my mother’s copy of the 2009 America’s Test Kitchen cookbook. I have to confess to having a soft spot for this show and the publications that it produces. They get to do that fussy testing and fiddling with recipes that saves me/us all the time in the world. We just get the benefit of all of their hard work by getting all the best methodology and ingredient tips. I’ve discovered some new favorite recipes among the ones that they have published.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m going to be moving apartments fairly soon. So, most of my eating efforts are going towards clearing out the cupboard, freezer, and fridge. Like most people, trying to eat better and to consume more whole grains and pulses has been an on-going goal and challenge. While moving things around to find the ingredients for the cookies I made a few weeks ago, I found that I’d bought a bag of cannellini beans on one trip to the Italian market at Chelsea Market. I consulted the cookbook because I’d remembered seeing the recipe in there for Hearty Tuscan Bean Stew.

With the temperatures still hovering around freezing to completely frigid, the photo for that dish just drew me in and brought back warm memories of Italy and of taking day trips to Florence, where we could get a nice steaming bowl of ribollita, after which this recipe takes. La dolcezza di far niente (the sweetness of doing nothing) is very far removed from the fast pace of the Big Apple. I could use some more of that in my life right now, with all the craziness taking place in financial services and the battering that the industry is taking at the moment. Making soup seemed like a way to bring some of that balance back into my life.

There are quick-soaking instructions, which seemed to work quite well. I would like to try to let them sit overnight to see if it makes a huge difference.

In the interests of time, and because I was kind of lazy, I used the food processor to chop the veggies and the pancetta. Next time, I think I will do it by hand, as I think something was lost in the final product.

Almost ready! I used chard which worked really well and is actually more authentically Tuscan than some of the other recommended greens.

All served up! I didn’t think this was entirely complete without a few gratings of parmesan cheese and some toasted bread drizzled with the lovely olive oil that I bought at the Arthur Avenue Market on my trip up there several weeks back. This was the perfect wintertime dinner.

Buon appetito!

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