This Tuscan soup is the epitome of fall eating, made to go hand in hand with the time of the olive harvest when fresh, new green extra virgin olive oil is made. Some like to add some pancetta to this, fry it off in a separate pan and add it to the soup along with the pumpkin, potatoes, and kale. If using another leafy green instead of kale, note that you will want to add it towards the end of cooking as nothing needs as long as kale does to reach the right point of cooking.
If this is all you're having, you could get 4 hearty portions. If you are serving this with other things as part of a several course meal, you could serve 6. —Emiko
small carrot, finely chopped
stick celery, finely chopped
small onion, finely chopped
14 ounce tin (400 grams) of cooked Borlotti (cranberry) beans (cannellini beans or chickpeas also work well here)
wedge of pumpkin (about 7 ounces/200 grams), peeled and diced
small-medium potatoes, peeled and diced
small bunch of cavolo nero (you could use silverbeet or spinach instead)
(1 litre) of water or vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste
Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Toasted bread rubbed with garlic, optional for serving
Gently cook the carrot, celery and onion in a few tablespoons of olive oil and a good pinch of salt in a heavy-bottomed saucepan or stove top casserole on low heat. Let the vegetables sweat, not colour, for about 10 minutes or until softened. Add the borlotti beans with about a cup of water (enough to cover) and bring to a simmer. Cook 15 minutes. Blend about half of the mixture to a smooth paste and return to the pot.
In the meantime, prepare the cavolo nero by slicing out the long, central stalk of the leaves and discarding—this is very tough—and chop just the leaves roughly.
Add the pumpkin, potatoes and cavolo nero (if using silverbeet or spinach hold onto it until a few minutes towards the end of cooking) and top with enough water or stock to cover (up to 4 cups or 1 liter) and cook for 30 minutes, uncovered, over an active simmer so that the liquid reduces slightly and the vegetables are tender. Adjust seasoning.
Serve with a good grinding of black pepper, a drizzle of olive oil, and toasted bread rubbed with garlic and drizzled with olive oil.
The Australian-Japanese cookbook author has lived in Florence (where a visit to a cheese farm once inspired her to start a food blog) for over 10 years with her Tuscan sommelier husband and two kids. Her third cookbook, Tortellini at Midnight, is out now.