Italian Greens Soup (Ed Fretwell Soup)

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I am a real nerd, as evidenced by the fact that I got really excited when I saw Molly Wizenberg's book in Ollie's for something like $3.99.  I immediately snatched it up and held it close to me like a child clutching a favorite toy in a crowded room.  I was able to make my first recipe from its collection last week, and it's a good, solid soup to add to your own recipe rotation.  It's all vegetable and greens, so there's a lot of healthiness packed into the soup pot.  The soup takes a while to make, but is easy to prepare and pretty economical.  I topped it with some homemade croutons and served with a little more toasted bread, and also topped with some parmesan cheese and olive oil, as Molly suggested.

I noticed that between Orangette's blog site and the book, the recipe has changed slightly.  I made a half recipe of what was found in the book, which is found below.  I will link to the actual Orangette site so you can compare.

Ed Fretwell Soup (Italian Greens Soup)
from Molly Wizenberg, aka Orangette

1/2 pound of dried white beans - such as cannellini (approx 2-3 cans)
2 large clove of garlic - peeled and smashed
3 fresh sage leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onions - finely chopped
2 stalks celery - finely chopped
4 medium carrots - sliced into thin rounds
1 medium zucchini - trimmed, halved lengthwise, sliced into 1/4-inch thick half-moons
2 cups chicken broth
Approx 6 oz Swiss Chard - stocks discarded and leaves coarsely chopped
Approx 6 oz green cabbage - trimmed and coarsely chopped
1 14-ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes, drained and chopped
1/2 tablespoon sea salt
Finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Sort through and rinse beans.  Place in a bowl, cover with an inch and a half of water and let soak 6 hours or overnight.

Place beans in a Dutch oven and cover with cold water. Add garlic and sage, then bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about two hours. Add more water so that there is always at least an inch over the beans.  Remove the garlic and sage leaves prior to adding the beans and their cooking liquid to the rest of the soup.

Meanwhile, heat oven over medium heat in a large (at least 8 quarts) pot. Add onions, carrots, and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 15 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover. Simmer for about 1 hour. It won’t look like there is enough liquid at first, the greens and vegetables give off more liquid as they cook. After about an hour, add the beans and any liquid. Simmer another 30 – 60 minutes. Add salt to taste, and serve.


  • I made this in stages because of my schedule.  I soaked the beans and prepared them, and on a separate day made the soup.  
  • Cannellini beans are also known as white kidney beans.  If you can't find those, sub in Great Northern or Navy beans.  
  • If you use canned beans, make sure you drain and rinse them.  You'll also need to add more water to the soup

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