Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Tour of Italy ~ Day 20... Two Days in Tuscany

Tuscany is my favorite part of Italy to study about. It is one of the oldest wine producing regions as well as the home to many traditional Italian dishes. This central region is what most people refer to as Italy. A Rolling countryside dotted with olive and cypress tress, sandwiched in between you will find a bold heritage of Renaissance cities filled with rich history, art and architecture, filled with rustic and refined cuisine, world know oils and superb wines. Interesting new fact that we learned while studing this region was the fact that they are often referred to as "mangiafagioli" (beat eaters). Doesn't fit the picture... does it? The most famous beans in the Tuscany region is called "cannellini" (small white beans). They are often paired with fresh vegetables to make soups and stew like dishes. Another staple to Tuscan meals are breads, often made without salt and served as the spoon for the highly flavored meat dishes.

Prosciutto & White Bean Soup


1 lb of white beans - Canellini or Great Northern
2 quarts of water
2-3 lbs of prosciutto, ham shanks or ham hocks
1 cup egg noddles
1 cup of diced onions
1 cup chopped celery
2/3 cup chopped carrots
2 cloves garlic, diced
2 teaspoon of dried chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh parsley and thyme


1.  Soak the beans in at least 2 quarts of cold water over night. Drain the water.
2.  Put the prosciutto or ham shank pieces in a large pot, add chicken stock and cover with water. Bring to a simmer and simmer for about an hour. Add the chopped vegetables and beans. Cook for another hour, until the vegetables are soft and the ham meat easily pulls away from the bone. Add egg noddles and cook until noddles are tender.
3. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a pinch of chopped fresh parsley and thyme. 

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