With St. Scholastica in mind, a hearty Tuscan soup


St. Scholastica, sister of St. Benedict, is a popular lady in these parts. The post written last year on her Feb. 10 memorial has drawn more than 900 visitors over the last 12 months and the numbers keep increasing.

St. Scholastica and St. Benedict

It leaves me to wonder just what is it about this holy woman that invites such attention. Perhaps the fact that she could hold her own in discourse with her saintly brother has fueled the interest. That is, after all, what interested me.

Mercy Sister Eleanor McCann, associate director of the diocesan Office of Worship, theorized that Pope Benedict XVI may be a contributing factor.

Those interested in how Benedict selected his papal name, may, by extension, have come across Scholastica and wanted to know more about her.

I’d love to know why you stopped by.

In the meantime, try out this recipe for a hardy Tuscan bean soup concocted in her honor. It’s adapted from a recipe by one of my very favorite TV chefs — Biba Caggiano. While rummaging through her cookbooks, I pray that some discerning network will bring her back to American television.

La Zuppa Di Fagioli Ala Scholastica

Ingredients: 1 pound dried cannellini beans or white kidney beans, soaked overnight in cold water, drain and rinsed; 2 quarts chicken broth; 1 large boiling potato, peeled and cut into chunks; 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil; 2 cloves garlic, minced; 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley; 2 cups canned imported Italian plum tomatoes with their jice; salt and freshly ground pepper to taste; grated Romano cheese to taste.

Directions: in a large pot, add the beans, broth and potato. Cover the pot partially and bring the broth to a gentle boil over medium heat. Reduce to low and simmer gently, stirring occasionally until the beans are tender — 45 minutes to an hour. while the beans are cooking, heat the oil in a deep skillet, add the garlic and the parsley and stir until the garlic begins to color. Add the tomatoes and bring to a gentle boil. Season with salt and pepper, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the sauce has a medium thick consistency – 20 to 25 minutes. Puree the beans, potato and broth in a food processor or blender and return to the large pot. Add the tomato sauce to the beans and cook 4 to 5 minutes longer. Serve hot with a dusting of cheese in each bowl.

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