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Tuscan peasant soup made gluten-free

My sister in law got me a copy of Marcella Hazan’s “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking” for my birthday, and I’ve spent the last week reading it cover to cover. It’s an amazing cookbook, especially if you are a cookbook fangirl like I am. One recipe stuck out to me last week — the Tuscan Peasant Soup With Cabbage and Beans, or, Aquacotta. It’s the perfect anti-thanksgiving meal for when you’re tired of those leftovers and the perfect cold-weather stew. It also happens that I had mountains of the main ingredient—Savoy cabbage— in the garden just ready to harvest, along with a few other items that were ready to be picked and used. I altered this recipe pretty heavily as I didn’t have some of the ingredients available, I didn’t have three hours to simmer, and I wanted to make it gluten free (Marcella’s version is poured over a layer of bread). I also wanted to add some meat to make it a little more hearty. It turned out to be one of our favorite meals and a rare highlight of 2020. Even my husband said it’s “a real winner,” which is high praise from him!

Here is my version of this classic dish:

Ingredients (roughly six servings):

  • One onion, chopped roughly
  • 1/4 c. Avocado oil
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Several cups finely chopped kale
  • Four to five cups finely chopped cabbage (the more the better)
  • One large can of Italian whole, peeled tomatoes, diced and with the juice
  • About a cup of chicken bone broth (enough to cover the veggies)
  • One lb Italian-style turkey sausage
  • About a half cup of Parmesan cheese, grated
  • One can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • Eggs, as many as the people you are serving. The original recipe called for six, I used two because I was only serving two people and keeping the rest for leftovers.
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • About a half cup of chopped fresh basil
  • Other herbs, to taste (I chopped some fresh parsley and oregano for garnish)
  • Other veggies, to taste (I added a handful of snap peas that were ready to be harvested from the garden)

In a large Dutch oven or stock pot, sauté the onion in the oil until it starts to wilt. Add the turkey sausage and break it up into tiny pieces. Add some salt, then the kale and cabbage. Stir until wilted, then add the tomatoes and the basil. Simmer for an hour on low, covered.

At the end of the simmering hour, in another saucepan, bring the lemon juice along with an inch to two inches of water to a boil. Add the eggs (poach them) when it comes to a boil. Let them poach for about 2-3 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the beans to the veggie mixture. Stir and correct for salt. Add some cracked pepper, to taste. Sprinkle about half the cheese on top of this, and leave simmering on low.

When the eggs are poached and still runny, scoop them from the sauce pan in a slotted spoon and place them on top of the vegetable and sausage dish. Add the rest of the cheese, and let them simmer another minute or so. Garnish with chopped fresh herbs (parsley and oregano worked well).

Serve each person a helping with an egg on top, preferably with a good glass of red wine.

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