Napa Cabbage and Bean Soup

05 January

Hearty vegetable soups are on the menu almost year round in our home, not necessarily beef or chicken vegetable, but my favorite, Greens and Beans! Cannellini beans have paired well with so many soups in our Italian kitchen.. I use them in fish stew, a puree of cauliflower bean bisque, and here in my "white" version of Greens and Beans.

My mom had always made Greens and Beans, which we call minestre in Italian (or what I had always been more familiar with, Minestre Degli Spinachi) with spinach.  So one day while at my mom's she served this "white" minestre. I have to say, I was kinda surprised that she had been keeping this from me! Although I still make the spinach version, because it's quick, and I can use frozen chopped spinach, this is by far my favorite, and it offers a more fresh and palatable taste.. besides it having a more chunkier consistency!

If you love fresh vegetable soups.. I think you'll love this!
I top mine off with a good sprinkle of freshly grated parmesan, but it's just as good without!

Napa Cabbage and Bean Soup

2 Large Heads Napa Cabbage
Olive Oil
¼ Cup Water
2 Cans *Cannellini Beans, 1 can strained, 1 can retaining it’s liquid
1 Fennel Bulb
1 Medium Shallot
2 Cloves Garlic
Red Pepper Flakes
White Pepper
Sea Salt
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese or Romano

8-9 Quart Dutch oven or Stockpot

Clean cabbage and drain well, then coarsely chop.

Add cabbage to large pot, drizzle with a few tablespoons of olive oil, and ¼ cup of water.
Cook on LOW heat till cabbage begins to wilt and create moisture in the pan. The cabbage will continue releasing water. Strain the water from the pot OFTEN so the cabbage doesn’t become mushy. After you empty the water, drizzle a little bit more olive oil (1 tsp.) to keep cabbage from burning. Keep heat on low.

When cabbage is al dente, still having texture, but soft at the same time, add 1 can of cannellini beans with it’s liquid, and 1 can cannellini strained. *(It is ok to substitute with Great Northern White Beans, but cannellini beans are more desirable)

Turn heat to medium low, to simmer but not boil. Add 1 tsp. salt, 1 pinch red pepper flakes, and ½ tsp. freshly ground pepper. (white pepper to retain color, but black is good too)

Meanwhile, clean fennel bulb and slice in julienne strips.
Slice shallot, and finely mince garlic.
Heat a sauté pan, add 1/8 cup olive oil, when oil is heated, add garlic and shallot.
Sauté till tender and golden, then add sliced fennel. Cook for 2 minutes.
Add these ingredients to the cabbage and bean mixture.

Let cook for another 15 to 20 minutes, taste and add seasonings as desired.
Serve topped with Parmesan cheese.

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