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Genius Recipe


That’s a risky title. When I worked at a restaurant many years ago the chef, wisely, noted that you should never call anything the “best this” or “world-famous that”. . . it’s annoying, it’s highly subjective, so on and so forth. I think this falls into a slightly different category. The folks at Food52 ask folks to submit genius recipes and I believe they define them as just plain smart, unusual, surprisingly delicious, and/or unexpected in their simplicity and success. I’ve been meaning to submit this recipe to them but in the meantime, here it is. And it has an irreverent title to boot!

It’s toasted bread, rubbed with garlic, slathered with pesto and doused with brothy black beans. That’s it and it’s really, really good. Make it and tell me when you do and what you think.

Zuppa Bastarda (“Bastard Soup”)
–inspired by Carol Boutard (of Ayers Creek Farm) who got the recipe from Nostrana which got the recipe from Anne Bianchi.

Bastard soup is so named because it uses black beans, which are called fascistini in honor of what Elda Cecchi calls “that black shirted bastard who brought Italy to the brink of destruction during WWII.”

It’s very simple to make. And if you have previously cooked black beans with their broth on hand by all means just use those. The garlic and pesto on the toasted bread add lots of flavor so don’t be put off by its simplicity.

1 ¼ cups dried black beans, soaked (or 3 cups of cooked black beans in their cooking liquid, see headnote)
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 medium onion, peeled and cut in half
2 tsp dried crumbled dried sage or chopped, fresh sage
6 3/4-inch thick slices good bread, toasted
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons basil pesto
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Drain the beans and place in a soup pot along with 3 cloves of the garlic, the onion, sage, 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt and enough water to cover by 2 inches. Heat to boiling over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 25 – 45 minutes or until beans are tender. Cut the remaining garlic cloves in half. Using half a clove for each 2 slices of bread, rub the bread with the cut sides of the garlic until the bread is perfumed with the odor, spread about 1 tablespoon of pesto on each slice. Divided the slices among 6 bowls and pour the bean soup into the bowls over the bread. Drizzle with olive oil. Serve hot.

Happy Cooking and Eating!

P.S. I’ve posted a bunch of new classes, shorter, cheaper and with new subject matter, including one for youth/kids and pantry stocking/quick meals one.

I used Black Basque beans (grown by Ayers Creek Farm in Gaston, Oregon) this time around and they have a much lighter hue when cooked. Usually I use Black Turtle beans which are much darker. It works well with both or probably any other kind of black bean you have. Getting the best, freshest beans you can find is always good though.



4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Claudia Arana Colen #

    So I made this soup and it was FANTASTIC. I should also note that this is the first time I have ever made beans from scratch and I had no idea they could be so delicious. The flavor was really different and soooo much better than canned. I also could not believe how simple this was to make and how healthy. Thanks for posting this!!

    January 18, 2012
    • Hurray! Thanks for reporting and I hope you’re hooked on home-cooked beans now. They are such fun!

      January 18, 2012
  2. Katy #

    Hi there,

    I was in the Beans Beans Beans class and so far we’ve made this soup and the Jamaican Rice and Peas (plus apple cider reduction and lots of cooked frozen beans). Both delicious! I think the bread we used in the soup was too hearty and sweet, though; it took something away from the overall taste.

    We were discussing the gas factor in class, because many of us had heard that leaving beans in their cooking liquid was gas-inducing. I must say I still believe it. Maybe my GI tract will adjust, or maybe it’s the garlic and not the beans? Anyhow, that’s where I come down on that “debate”.

    I put ginger in the apple cider and it did indeed make it very ginger-y. Good in seltzer water with bourbon!

    Looking forward to taking another class!


    January 25, 2012
    • Thanks for the update Katy. On the “gas” topic I must have missed the beginning of that conversation since I had actually never heard that. I had always heard that the soaking and then rinsing before cooking was the best way to reduce the potential “problem”. Hmm, will have to look into this more. Since our GI tracts seem to be well-adjusted to my process I’m likely going to stick with it but keep me posted:)! Glad the recipes turned out though and hope to see you again soon!

      January 25, 2012

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