Adapted from Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen (2006). We have been enjoying Deborah Madison’s food since our first dinner at Greens in San Francisco on the fateful night in 1992 that we decided four years in San Francisco wasn’t a crazy idea at all. Deborah Madison was the founding chef of Greens (which still serves fabulous vegetarian food today) and later author of The Greens Cookbook with Edward Espe Brown, of Tassajara Bread Book fame. We met Ed Brown at Tassajara in 1993 when he happened to sit next to us at dinner. He asked what led us to Tassajara. I replied that I had read the Tassajara Bread Book in the 1970’s and had always wanted to visit Tassajara, whereupon Ed Brown revealed his identity. Synchronicity again.
big bunch of broccoli rabe
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra oil for finishing
1 onion, quartered and sliced crosswise
3 garlic cloves, 2 coarsely chopped, 1 halved
1 or 2 pinches of hot red pepper flakes
chunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese rind
one 15-ounce can organic cannelloni beans
4 slices whole wheat country bread
½ cup freshly grated Parmigiana-Reggiano or Asiago cheese
Trim the stem ends off the broccoli rabe and discard them. Trim the rest of the stems off and chop them into small pieces. Chop the leaves coarsely. Wash the leaves and stem pieces well, and set aside in a colander.
Heat the oil in a wide soup pot. When hot, add the onion and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped garlic and pepper flakes, cook for a minute or so longer, then add the greens and the stems. Season with 1 teaspoon salt, toss around the pan until wilted, then add 5 cups water and the chunk of cheese rind. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Add the beans, simmer for 15 minutes, then taste for salt.
Toast the bread and rub it with the halved garlic clove. Unless you prefer to serve it on the side, break or cut it into pieces and lay them in the bottom of each bowl. Sprinkle a tablespoon of the grated cheese over the bread, then add the beans, broth, and greens. Thread a little oil into each serving and add the rest of the cheese.