It’s Fall, y’all. Soup season is officially here. Time to get cozy. After a brutally hot summer here in Italy, I, for one, am so(!) relieved by the cooler temps. It’s also olive harvest season, so in this post, I am sharing the recipe for Zuppa alla Frantoiana, aka, the olive maker’s soup.
Zuppa alla Frantoiana is everything you want in a fall soup. It’s hearty, creamy, and packed full of nutrition. The recipe originates from Lucca, in the region of Tuscany. It’s made around this time of year because it’s finished with the freshly pressed olio nuovo or new oil. Olive mills across Umbria just opened up for the season, and everywhere you look, there is green gold to be found.
This recipe has all your fall veggies: onion, celery, carrots, potatoes, squash, beans, and kale. The squash adds a lovely sweetness that we’ll combine with a salty 40-month-aged parmesan, a little sprinkle of pepperoncino (Italian chili powder), and a healthy drizzle of grassy EVOO. Serve it with warm toasted sourdough bread.
A note before getting started: This version of Zuppa alla Frantoiana incorporates dried beans, so be sure to get those soaking either overnight or first thing in the morning. You want to give them at least 6 hours. If you can’t find cranberry beans, feel free to substitute with canellini or pinto beans, following the cooking time shown on their label.
- Soak the beans for at least 6 hours. Drain and rinse.
- Dice 1 onion, 1 carrot, and the rib of celery. Combine with beans in a large pot or dutch oven. Cover with water, exceeding the beans by 3 inches. Add a generous pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook, simmering until tender, around 30-45 minutes.
- While the veggies and beans are cooking, cube the potatoes, remaining carrot, and the squash. Finely dice the onion. De-rib the kale and chop it into bite-size pieces. Depending on the size of the bunch, you may want to reduce the amount of kale used.
- Once the beans are cooked, drain them, reserving the cooking water. Using an immersion blender, blend half of the bean mixture until uniformly smooth. Separately, set aside the blended and the remaining whole beans. We’ll add those back to the pot in a little bit.
- Using the same large pot over medium heat, add 4 TBSP EVOO. Add the diced onion, potatoes, carrot, squash, and kale. Give them a pinch of salt and a few rounds of fresh cracked pepper. Sauté for 5-7 minutes.
- Add the bean purèe, about 1.5 cups of the cooking water, and cook until vegetables are tender, about 45 min to an hour. Add more cooking water if needed.
- Once the veggies are cooked, add the remaining beans and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Ladle into bowls, and sprinkle with aged parmesan cheese and little ground chili powder (optional). Drizzle generously with EVOO. Serve with warm, freshly toasted bread.