Conza – Bean, Cauliflower and Fennel Soup

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Conza – Bean, Cauliflower and Fennel Soup

Boston Globe, March 31, 2010

Conza is a traditional Sicilian sauce/soup made with chickpeas, favas, kidney or cranberry beans, white beans, black-eyed peas, and lentils. You can add a handful of whatever dried legumes you have on hand; think of it as spring cleaning your pantry. Nina Groppo cooks each variety of bean separately the day before she makes the sauce. Here, they all go into the pot together. Use the quick soak method (see below) before simmering. The recipe makes a large quantity, so have plenty of freezer containers on hand. Serve over pasta or on its own as a soup, garnished with Parmesan and chopped fresh parsley1 cup dried chickpeas.

1 cup dried kidney or cranberry beans
1 cup dried cannellini or other white beans
1 cup dried black-eyed peas
1 cup dried fava beans
1 cup lentils
1 large onion, cut into 1-inch dice
4 carrots, cut into 1-inch dice
4 stalks celery, cut into 1-inch dice
1 large bulb fresh fennel with fronds, cut into 1-inch dice
16 cups water
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large cauliflower, cut into florets
1 tablespoon salt, or more to taste
1 teaspoon pepper, or more to taste

1. In a colander, combine the chickpeas, kidney or cranberry beans, white beans, and black-eyed peas. Rinse with cold water. Transfer to a stock pot and add cold water to cover. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the beans soak for 1 hour. Drain and set aside.

2. In the colander, rinse the favas; transfer to a medium saucepan. Add water to cover and bring to a boil. Cook for 2 minutes, turn off the heat and soak for 1 hour. Drain and peel off the loosened skins.

3. In the colander, rinse the lentils; set aside.

4. In the stockpot, combine all the beans, favas, lentils, onion, carrots, celery, fennel, and water. Bring to a boil and skim the foam from the surface.

5. Lower the heat to medium, set the cover on askew, and simmer for 2 hours, stirring frequently. The beans will absorb a large amount of water so add more hot water to the pot if necessary.

6. Stir in the olive oil. Continue cooking for 30 minutes or until the beans are soft and the mixture thickens.

7. Add the cauliflower and continue cooking for 30 minutes or until tender. (Total cooking time is about 3 hours.)

8. Add salt and pepper.

Adapted from Nina Groppo

http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/food/articles/2010/03/31/preparation_is_half_the_fun_for_feast_of_san_giuseppe/
© Copyright 2010 Globe Newspaper Company.

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