This Tuscan peasant soup is a version of a classic dish found in Marcella Hazan’s “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking”. I received a copy from my sister-in-law for my birthday a couple of years ago and spent a week of 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 — the Tuscan Peasant Soup With Cabbage and Beans, or, Aquacotta. It’s the perfect post-holiday meal for when you’re tired of the richness of December food and the perfect cold-weather stew. It has in-season January produce, some of which I sometimes have in my garden just ready to harvest.
I altered this recipe pretty heavily to make it a little easier, gluten-free (Marcella’s version is poured over a layer of bread). I also made it a little bigger to go a further as a refrigerator staple for the week. We needed it to be more hearty, and that’s where the sausage comes in. It turned out to be one of our favorite meals and something we make regularly. My husband, who is not a soup person (he says, but that’s not possible in my opinion), loves it and asks for it when it’s cold outside. Whip it up in your favorite pan and have a glass of Beaujolais while you cook. It’s like therapy.
The beauty of soups
I make a lot of soups. They are perfect for keeping on hand for lunches (especially if you work from home like I do), quick dinners, and you can make them buildable and add on to them as the week goes on. For instance, we may add some gluten-free pasta to this dish to make it into an entirely different meal one night, or top it with goat cheese instead of parmesan. The options are endless with soups.
Soups are healthy, cheap (usually), easy, and a crowd pleaser. This one is particularly versatile because you can adjust the broth level to high-soupy or more stew-like, which lends it to being made into other dishes (like a pasta topper) after sitting for a night or two in the fridge.
5cupsfinely chopped cabbage (or more)more cabbage is better in this dish, in my opinion. I used a whole head of Savoy or Napa cabbage.
28ozcan of whole, peeled tomatoes
15ozcan of stewed tomatoesYou can play with the quantities and types of canned tomatoes here depending on your preference.
2-3cupschicken bone brothOr more, whatever will cover the vegetables and meat and give you the broth level you want
1lbItalian sausage, groundyou can use turkey or pork, whatever you like
1/2cupparmesan cheese, grated or shredded
15 ozcancannellini beans, drained and rinsedany white bean will work for this
1 largeegg - one for every person you are serving
1/2cupchopped, fresh basil or other garden herbs, to taste
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 broth, 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 wine.
I am a mom of two and wife to a martial arts school owner, full-time social media professional and avid cook and gardener. I love creating recipes and involving my kids in the process. The food we cook is usually dairy-free and gluten-free, and sometimes paleo, but we make exceptions (ahem, sourdough bread). The “hippie” part of this blog comes into play in the ingredients we use—I’m pretty vigilant about the health of my family and you could even call me “crunchy.” The “modern” part is that I am busy! You won’t catch me making my own nut milk or churning butter (not that there’s anything wrong with that). I’m more than happy to take the shortcuts provided by our lovely grocery stores and online shopping —especially in the midst of this global pandemic.