Maremman bean and vegetable soup

Maremman bean and vegetable soup

Zuppa maremmana

Emiko Davies; Lauren Bamford

Rather like a minestrone, this simple vegetable soup of cannellini beans, leafy greens and mushrooms is the food equivalent of a comforting hug. If you can find it (literally, by foraging for it), the best green to use would be sea beet or bietola selvatica (Beta vulgaris or Beta maritima). This wild weed is the ancestor to beetroot (beet) and Swiss chard (silverbeet) and grows, as its name suggests, near the sea. This particular recipe is from Capalbio, but Italo Arieti (who writes on the food history of Lazio’s Maremma) says the roots and young, glossy leaves of sea beet were traditionally collected for preparing the similar Acquacotta Viterbese. Other substitutes would be beetroot (beet) leaves or even English spinach. Use any favourite mushrooms here.


Quantity Ingredient
150g silverbeet leaves
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
1 brown onion, finely sliced
1 celery stalk, finely sliced
2 small potatoes, peeled and cut into 1.5 cm cubes
100g mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 litre vegetable stock or water
240g cooked cannellini beans
4 slices stale tuscan bread, (or other crusty white loaf)
1 whole garlic clove
1 handful grated pecorino cheese, (optional), to serve


  1. Trim the base of the silverbeet stalks and wash well to ensure there is no dirt. Chop roughly and set aside.
  2. Pour the olive oil into a medium to large soup pot and add the onion, celery and a pinch of salt. Cook on low heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. When the onion is soft and translucent, add the potatoes and mushrooms and cover with stock or water. Bring to a simmer over low– medium heat and cook for 10–15 minutes, or until the potatoes are just tender. Season with salt and pepper, and add the silverbeet and cannellini beans. Bring back to a simmer and continue cooking for 5 more minutes, or until the greens are tender but still bright. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.
  3. Grill the slices of bread (or dry out in a low oven) until crisp. Rub one side with a raw clove of garlic.
  4. Pour the soup in bowls with freshly ground black pepper, a drizzle of olive oil and, if desired, some pecorino cheese. Serve with the garlic-rubbed bread on the side.


  • If you want to cook your own cannellini beans, see page 186. Otherwise, a drained tin of cooked cannellini beans is just right for this, too.
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