After a week of eating like pigs in Venice, I came back craving a simple soup my mom used to make during the summer. She used to make this whether we were in Napoli or back in the Hudson Valley with beans and tomatoes from the garden.
This soup is perfect for one of those hot lazy summer evenings where all you want to do is just sit at the table and listen to the insects outside. (Difficult to do in London, but that’s what imagination is for.) All you do is dump the ingredients into a pot of water and fire up the stove. Once it starts to boil, the sweet shallots open up their pores and the kitchen fills up with the smell of a savoury garden. With just a tiny bit of oil and salt at the end, it feels so good It’s so good and makes you feel like you’re cleaning your insides with a hose of beans.
Cannellini Summer Soup
500 grams of fresh or dried (soaked) cannellini beans (or 2 cans)
a big healthy handful of cherry tomatoes
2 bay leaves
a clove of garlic (crushed with the palm of your hand)
parsely or basil
grated parmigiano or other hard cheese (I used Piave Stravecchio from the Veneto region. When we come to visit, my mother-in-law ships us back home with half a suitcase of cheese.)
1. Chop the shallots in small chunks, not too fine.
2. Wash and chop the tomatoes in half.
3. Put in a pot the shallots, garlic, bay leaves, tomatoes, and beans with about a liter of water.
4. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer. If using fresh or dried beans, simmer for 40 minutes. If using canned or already cooked beans, cook for 20 mins.)
5. Add salt to taste just at the end.
6. Serve with a spiral of olive oil, some chopped parsley or basil leaves, and some grated cheese on top. It’s nice hot, lukewarm, or even cold.