Serves 8 +
The name of this soup in Italian is virtù, which means “virtue,” and this soup surely contains many virtues, given all of the delightful legumes involved. The one thing to remember when making a soup with legumes is to give it enough time to -slow–cook and perk away until the soup becomes velvety. In this recipe, the fava beans and chestnuts need to be cooked until they almost disintegrate.
- 2 smoked ham hocks
- ¼ cup -extra--virgin olive oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 cup peeled, shredded carrot
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1 cup canned whole San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand (see page 78)
- 1 pound dried fava beans, soaked overnight, drained, outer skin peeled (or use about ¾ pound already peeled dried favas if you can find them)
- 8 ounces chickpeas, soaked overnight and drained
- 3 cups coarsely chopped peeled chestnuts
- 3 fresh bay leaves
- 2 bunches Swiss chard, tough stems removed, leaves and tender stems and ribs shredded
- 8 ounces dried brown lentils
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
In a medium saucepan, cover the ham hocks with cold water, bring to a simmer, and simmer for 10 minutes to remove some of the salt. Drain.
In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil over -medium–high heat. Add the onion, carrot, and celery, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, favas, chickpeas, chestnuts, bay leaves, and 8 quarts of water. Bring to a simmer. Once the beans are simmering, add the drained ham hocks. Simmer the soup until all the beans are almost tender, about 1½ hours.
Add the chard, cover, and simmer until the chard wilts into the soup, about 15 minutes. Add the lentils, and cook until all the beans are very tender and the chestnuts have melted to make a creamy soup, about 30 minutes. Season with the salt. Serve hot.