Tuscans are known as mangiafagioli, bean eaters. White beans are a way of life, and a traditional Tuscan meal often starts with a thick bean soup that has been cooked in a terracotta pot, flavoured with herbs and heavily anointed with olive oil. This one is cooked on the stove top for convenience, and is flavoured with sage, garlic and olive oil.
Eat these Tuscan beans with thick slices of real bread – one with a delicious crust and a chewy interior. If you like, spoon the beans over bread, slightly toasted. You will love it.
Florentine Beans | Fagioli alla Fiorentina
This recipe makes quite a lot, but it easily can be halved.
500g dried cannellini beans, soaked overnight in cold water
2 onions, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, cut into thirds
6 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
200 ml extra virgin olive oil
3 bay laurel leaves
4 large sprigs sage
2 tspns dried chilli flakes (or to taste)
salt to taste
crusty bread to serve
Drain the beans and rinse, then place in a large saucepan with onions, celery, garlic, 80ml olive oil, bay leaves, 2 sprigs of sage and 2.5l of water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.
Simmer gently for 1.5 hours, then season with salt and cook for a further hour, stirring occasionally, until the beans are very tender. Check the water level periodically, and add more if the mixture becomes too dry.
Remove the pan from the heat.
(Optional) Allow to cool at room temperature. This allows flavours to develop.
Combine 80ml of oil with the chilli flakes and set aside.
Pick the leaves from the remaining sage sprigs. Heat the remaining oil in a small frying pan over medium heat and add the sage leaves. Fry for 30 seconds until crisp. Drain on paper towel.
Reheat the beans over a low heat, then serve into shallow bowls. Top with the fried sage leaves and drizzle with the chilli oil. Serve with the crusty bread.
recipe notes and alternatives
Cook in a terracotta pot in a slow oven for 2 – 3 hours or until the beans are tender.
In Winter, for an earthier flavour, I might add 6 juniper berries
2 brown cardamom seeds and 6-8 black peppercorns.