This is a delicious hearty meal in a bowl for lunch or dinner. We stirred kale into this recipe, but any chopped greens will do.
Beautiful climbing borlotti beans, also known as cranberry beans, are immensely attractive and easy to grow. The speed by which they pop out of the soil is reminiscent of a fairy tale. When conditions are right, they can grow a foot a night and peak at an impressive 6+ feet (1.8 metres) tall.
They need to be sturdily staked and grown in full sun on the edge of a garden, as their thick foliage can cast quite a shadow that might affect other sun-hungry plants. Perfect for large areas, but also consider a couple of seeds for a patio. They create a great privacy barrier and produce an abundance of beautiful striped beans that can be eaten whole when small. Or let them continue to grow so that, once dried, they can be podded and stored until ready to cook.
Tip: If a creamier soup is preferred, before adding tomatoes and kale, give soup a couple of pulses with a hand wand mixer.
Cooking garden-fresh borlotti beans
Wash and clean shucked beans and place in a saucepan with water to cover 1 in (2.5 cm) above beans. Boil beans gently, with lid ajar, for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until tender.
1/4 cup (60 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
4 celery stalks, finely diced
2 carrots, peeled and finely diced
1 yellow onion, peeled and diced
2 garlic cloves, minced and smashed
1 sprig rosemary, minced
8 cups (2 L) low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock
2 bay leaves
2 in (5 cm) piece Parmesan cheese rind
1 lb (450 g) dried borlotti beans, soaked overnight (see box above for directions on cooking garden-fresh beans; for directions on cooking dried borlotti beans, see the recipe for Seared Tuna Loin Tip)
1/2 tsp (2 mL) crushed dried chilies
3 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 Tbsp (15 mL) red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp (2 mL) kosher salt, plus extra, if desired
Freshly ground black pepper
4 to 6 kale leaves, stems removed and leaves cut into thin shreds
1/4 cup (60 mL) shaved Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp (30 mL) chopped Italian parsley
Heat oil in large heavy saucepan. Add celery, carrots, and onion, and sauté until soft but not browned. Stir in garlic and rosemary and sauté for a minute, until aromatic.
Stir in stock, bay leaves, Parmesan rind, soaked and drained beans, and crushed dried chilies. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until beans are tender. Add more water as needed.
Remove bay leaves and Parmesan rind. Stir in diced tomatoes, vinegar, salt, and pepper, and continue to simmer until tomatoes are heated through.
Stir in kale and continue to cook until kale is wilted. Add more salt and pepper to taste, if you wish. Ladle into serving bowls and serve with Parmesan and parsley sprinkled over top.