This is my all time favorite soup to make. Courtesy of Barefoot Contessa. It’s very easy. Serves 8.
1/2 pound dried white beans, such as Great Northern or cannellini
1/4 cup olive oil, plus extra for serving
1/4 pound diced pancetta or smoked bacon
2 cups chopped yellow onions ( 2 onions)
1 cup chopped carrots ( 3 carrots)
1 cup chopped celery ( 3 stalks)
3 tablespoons minced garlic ( 6 cloves)
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 ( 28 ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes in puree , chopped
4 cups shredded or chopped savoy cabbage (optional)
4 cups coarsely chopped kale
1/2 cup chopped basil leaves
6 cups chicken stock
4 cups sourdough bread cubed and crust removed
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
In a large bowl, cover the beans with cold water by 1 inch and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to soak overnight in the refrigerator.
Drain the beans and place them in a large pot with 8 cups of water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 45 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and simmer for another 15 minutes., until beans are tender. Set aside and let cool in their liquid.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large stockpot. Add the pancetta and onions and cook over medium low heat for 7 to 10 minutes., until the onions are translucent. Add the carrots, celery, garlic, 1 tablespoon of salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cook over medium low heat till vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally for another 7 to 10 minutes.
Add the tomatoes with their puree, the cabbage if using, the kale and basil and cook over medium low heat for another 7 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Drain the beans reserving their cooking liquid. In a food processor puree half the beans with a little bit of their liquid.
Add to the stockpot, along with the remaining whole beans.
Pour the bean liquid into a measuring cup and add enough chicken stock to make 8 cups. Add to the soup and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let simmer for 20 minutes. over low heat. Add the bread and simmer for another 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Serve hot in soup bowls , add cheese and drizzle olive oil.