Michael's Tuscan White Bean Soup
10-15 ounces Dried Cannellini Beans or three 12-ounce cans
1 large Ham Bone or Pancetta
3 Garlic cloves, chopped
Several Sage Leaves
6 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 to 3 Celery Stalks, chopped
6 Plum Tomatoes or 16 to 20 ounces canned,
8 cups Beef stock
1 tablespoon of Balsamic Vinegar
Splash of White Wine
Light sprinkling of Salt and Pepper
Here’s the key part of the process as far as I’m concerned. First, if you use dry beans, soak them the night before or at least for six hours.
Take the garlic, the celery and some of the sage leaves and put them into the stockpot WITHOUT ADDING ANY OIL OR BUTTER OR WATER OR STOCK. ADD NOTHING. Heat the ingredients for ten minutes or so over medium heat and do NOT cover the pot. Cut up the ham into several pieces and put the pieces into the pot. Add nothing else. Brown the ham bone and meat. Then put in the tomatoes and continue to heat the mixture for another 3 to 5 minutes. Then add the stock and the beans. Simmer for three or more hours.
The pot can be covered now, but try to prevent the stock from boiling. Use very low heat. At the end, splash in some Balsamic vinegar, a little white wine, some salt and pepper. "That’s my trick," as Clemenza said to Michael Corleone.