Autumn Vegetable Soup


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Limoncello and Linen Water

Limoncello and Linen Water

By Tessa Kiros

Published 2012

  • About

This is a huge, warm and friendly pot of everything. If would be made when the new extra virgin olive oil of the season is ready and this would be used during the cooking and also drizzled over the soup just before serving. You need a big pof of course. You can vary the vegetables, but whatever you use should be cut up irregularly so they’re all different, rather than an army of the same. I like to cook the borlotti beans in a pressure cooker.


  • 250 g (9 oz/½ cups) borlotti (cranberry) beans, soaked in plenty of cold water overnight
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled, 3 chopped
  • a few sage leaves or a small clump
  • 300 g (10½ oz) young cavolo nero
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra, for serving
  • 200 g (7 oz) red onions, chopped
  • 1 leek, trimmed, white part and some green too, sliced
  • 160 g ( oz) inner celery sticks with some leaves, chopped
  • 300 g (10½ oz) carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 400 g (14 oz) potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 300 g (10½ oz) cabbage, trimmed and shredded
  • 2 litres (70 fl oz/8 cups) water
  • 8 slices country-style bread
  • ground chilli, to serve
  • grated parmesan, to serve, if you like


Drain the water from the borlotti beans after soaking overnight. Put the beans in a pot, cover with plenty of fresh water and add a whole clove of garlic and the sage leaves. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer over low heat for 1 hour or as long as necessary, until the beans are tender. Check now and then that there is an abundant amount of water covering the beans. Add salt only towards the end of the cooking time. Take off the heat, but don’t drain.

To prepare the cavolo nero, hold each stalk at its base and use your other hand to strip the leaf off. Shred the eaves and discard the stalks.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large wide pot and sauté the onions and leek until lightly golden. Add the chopped garlic and sauté for a moment. Add the celery and carrots and sauté for a while longer. Turn through with a wooden spoon. Add the potatoes, cabbage and cavolo nero, season with salt and a little pepper and add 1.5 litres (52 fl oz/6 cups) of the water. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer, partly covered, until the vegetables are lovely and tender, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Add the remaining 500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) of water as the soup thickens, about halfway through the cooking time.

Drain the borlotti beans, keeping the cooking broth. Purée 1 cup of the beans with 500 ml of the broth. Add to the pot with the whole beans and simmer for another 15 minutes or so to blend all of the flavours. If it seems too tight, add a little more of the borlotti broth. Remove from the heat and rest, covered.

Grill the bread. Rub one side gently with the remaining garlic clove, then drizzle a little olive oil over each slice. Ladle the soup into bowls and top each with a good dribble of olive oil, a grind of pepper and a scattering of chilli. You can decide whether you would like this with grated parmesan or without.