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A bowl of the traditional Tuscan soup, Polentina Alla Toscana.

Polentina Alla Toscana, a Tuscan soup.

A traditional Tuscan soup, with a chicken broth base, and polenta added to the soup to thicken it "ever so slightly."
Course Soup
Cuisine Italian
Author David Tanis. Recipe from his cookbook, One Good Dish.


  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling
  • 1 large onion diced
  • ½ pound carrots peeled and diced
  • 4 celery stalks diced
  • 1 large fennel bulb trimmed and diced
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 medium leek trimmed and cut into ½-inch squares
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ cup polenta
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • ½ pound kale preferably Tuscan
  • ½ teaspoon grated or finely chopped garlic
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Leaves from 1 rosemary sprig


  1. In a heavy pot, het 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, and fennel, season generous with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring for 5 minutes or so, until barely softened. Add the leek and bay leaf and cook for 2 minutes.
  2. Add the polenta, stirring to distribute it, and raise the heat to high. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and allow the soup to simmer for about an hour; the broth should be just slightly thickened. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
  3. Meanwhile, wash and roughly chop the kale. Drain in a colander but do not dry. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a wide skillet over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the greens, stirring as they begin twilit. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and season with salt and pepper. Turn the heat to medium, cover, and cook until the greens are tender, about 5 minutes more. Set aside.
  4. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and top with the kale. Sprinkle with the chopped rosemary (finely chop it at the last minute), and drizzle with more olive oil if desired.