If you’re a Vacche Rosse cheese aficionado, chances are you’ve accumulated a hoard of rinds somewhere in the back of the fridge. Parmesan broth is their highest calling. You won’t use all the stock for this soup, so you’ll have plenty left for a decadent risotto later on. Inspired by Marcella Hazan’s white bean soup, this simple recipe for Cannellini beans in parmesan broth is velvety and nourishing.
If you make the broth and cook the beans in advance, this soup comes together in less than 20 minutes. While the buttery Cannellini and umami-laden broth are wonderful on their own, you could bulk up this soup with other ingredients such as Piennolo tomatoes or spinach.
TIME: 2 1/2 hours (plus 8-hours /overnight soaking)
For the Vacche Rosse cheese rind broth:
- Extra virgin olive oil, 1 tbsp
- Onion, one large, quartered
- Garlic, one head, sliced in half crosswise
- Black peppercorns, 1 tsp
- Vacche Rosse cheese rinds, 175g / 0.5 lbs
- Fresh parsley, 10-20 sprigs
- Fresh thyme, 4-6 sprigs
- Bay leaves, 2
For the Soup:
- Dried Cannellini beans, 500g / 1 lb
- Coarse sea salt, 1 Tbsp
- Extra virgin olive oil, 120ml / 1/2 cup
- Garlic, two cloves, minced
- Vacche Rosse cheese rind broth, 700-900ml / 3-4 cups
- Fresh parsley, 2 Tbsp, minced
- Vacche Rosse cheese, finely grated, to serve
- Make the parmesan broth. If necessary, use a vegetable brush to scrape away any dyes on the cheese rinds under running water. Heat 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil in your stock pot. Sear the quartered onion and head of garlic, cut sides down, until golden (2-4 minutes). Add the peppercorns to the pot and toast for a minute or so. Finally add 2.8 liters /12 cups of water, the cheese rinds, and herbs.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer for 2 1/2 hours. Stir occasionally to prevent the rinds from sticking to the bottom of the pan, and skim away any impurities that rise to the surface.
- Allow to cool to room temperature, then strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Store in the fridge or freezer until ready to use.
- Soak the Cannellini beans in water for at least 8 hours or overnight.
- Bring the beans to a boil using fresh water, along with 1 tbsp coarse sea salt. Reduce to a simmer and cook 1 hour, or until the beans are cooked through but still retain their shape. You should have a little over 6 cups of cooked beans. Allow to cool then strain, reserving all the cooking liquid.
- To make the soup, heat the minced garlic and 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil in a dutch oven over medium, until the garlic just barely begins to color. Add the cooked, drained beans along with 1/2 cup of their reserved cooking liquid and a few grindings of black pepper. Cover and simmer for 5-6 minutes.
- In a blender, combine a cup of beans with 1 cup of stock or bean cooking liquid until smooth. Return to the pot along with as much or as little bean cooking liquid or cheese stock as you desire, depending on how thick or thin you want the soup.
- Alternatively, for a more rustic texture (and less dishes to wash!) simply smash some the beans against the sides of the pan with a wooden spoon. Simmer an additional 5-6 minutes, then stir through the minced parsley.
- Serve with bread, a sprinkling of Vacche Rosse cheese, and a hefty glug of extra virgin olive oil.