Italian recipes – Quasi-Tuscan soup

(4 people)
200g (.5 lb) pearled barley
100g (3oz) dried beans
30g (1 oz) butter
olive oil, possibly with a strong flavor, possibly from Tuscany
50g (2 oz) minced pancetta (or bacon)
chopped: 2 cloves garlic, 1/2 onion, 1 stem celery, some rosemary
cubed: 1 carrot, 1 leek, 2 potatoes
1 tbsp of tomato paste
1.25 l (5.5 cups) stock
1 small cabbage (small!)
Parmesan cheese


  • The soup is often a good way to finish off veggies you have in the fridge, so e.g. Napa cabbage is OK too (with, or instead of, normal cabbage); more leek/less onion and vice versa; etc..
  • The recipe does not mention which beans. Most are good. Yours truly especially likes to use black-eyed peas, which is probably how Dante ate it.
  • Can be accompanied with bread croutons or pita chips at the discretion of the eater, but it’s got enough carb to be edible on its own.

Keep barley and beans in cold water for 12 hours, then drain. Heat up the butter, oil and bacon, then add the chopped and cubed vegetables, then the barley, beans and tomato paste. Add the stock, bring to a boil, and cook for about an hour. Then, cut up the cabbage leaves into strips and add them, cook for 20 more minutes. Serve, adding salt and pepper as needed and garnishing with Parmesan cheese and raw olive oil.

For best results, the soup can be made with a pressure cooker. In this case, halve the cooking times. Cook the vegetables for 30 minutes, then remove from fire, depressurize, add the cabbage, repressurize and cook for 10 minutes. If you can’t use the pressure cooker, don’t – I don’t want to be sued by your angry estate. An excellent compromise is a dutch oven the likes of which you can buy from Staub or Le Creuset, if budget is not an issue.

About Author: Mattia

Assistant Professor of Finance at the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University. Coder. Policy wonk. View all posts by Mattia

June 5, 2019
By Mattia
Category: Recipes