There are times when you ask yourself: what should I eat tonight? Eat whatever sounds good and tastes good to you. This is a dish I ate growing up that I had sometimes get a craving for. It’s easy to make, and a batch can feed a family for days. This simple take on Italian bean soup features zucchini, ham and of course, Cannellini (white kidney beans) – the famous legume of Tuscany.
Take the recipe as a guide that you can tailor to your own palate. Sausage or chicken would work fine instead of ham. You can add spinach, garlic, Parmesan and more spice if you like. My basic rendition here is how it went down for me.
Step 1 is basically food prep. Get everything chopped and ready to be sauteed.
Slice carrot and zucchini, dice celery, mash cannellini, chop the onion, cube the ham, heat up some oil, flavor attack – bam!
Add a half tablespoon of olive oil, and brown the cubed ham.
Take that out. Add another one and a half tablespoons of olive oil. Then add onion, celery, zucchini, and carrot along with dried basil and fresh ground black pepper.
Let the vegetables soften for about 15 minutes. Add a little bit of water if it gets too hot/starts to burn. Bring the ham back to the party and add stewed tomatoes, broth, beans, and 2 cups of water.
Now the secret ingredient… Parmesan Rind. Yes, add the rind from a chunk of Parmesan cheese. This is how this dish gets away with not adding salt. Although, you can of course add salt to taste or add grated Parmesan cheese, but try boiling it with the rind. It won’t hurt unless you have a milk allergy.
Italian Bean Soup with Zucchini and Ham
- 1/4 to 1/2 lb cooked ham
- 2 celery stalks – diced (about 1 cup)
- 2 carrots sliced – (about 1 cup)
- 1 onion chopped (about 2 cups)
- 1 zucchini sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 2 14oz cans white kidney beans
- 2 TB olive oil
- 1/2 tsp dried basil
- 1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
- 1 14-16 oz can stewed tomatoes
- 1 13-14 oz can chicken broth
- 2 cups water
- chopped spinach (optional)
- parmesan cheese rind or grated parm (optional)
- Cut ham into 1/2 inch cubes or pieces. Dice/Slice vegetables.
- Remove 1 1/2 cup white beans to bowl; mash.
- In large pot add 1/2 TB olive oil and brown ham. Remove ham and add 1 1/2 TB olive oil then onion, zucchini, celery, carrots, basil and pepper. Cook about 15 minutes until soft. If vegetables start to burn or are cooking too quickly, add a small amount of water as needed.
- Stir in stewed tomatoes, broth, spinach (if using), mashed white beans, parmesan rind and 2 cups of water. Heat to boiling. Simmer 15 minutes. Stir in beans. Enjoy.