- 1/2 pound dried white beans, such as Great Northern or cannellini
- Kosher salt
- 1/4 cup good olive oil, plus extra for serving
- 1/4 pound large 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 black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 (28-ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes in puree, chopped
- 4 cups coarsely chopped or shredded savoy cabbage, optional
- 4 cups coarsely chopped kale
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
- 6 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
- 4 cups sourdough bread cubes, crusts removed
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, 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 continue to simmer for about 15 minutes, until the beans are tender. Set the beans aside to 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, the pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cook over medium-low heat for 7 to 10 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Add the tomatoes with their puree, the cabbage, if using, the kale, and basil and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for another 7 to 10 minutes.
Drain the beans, reserving their cooking liquid. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, puree half of the beans with a little of their liquid. Add to the stockpot, along with the remaining whole beans. Pour the bean cooking liquid into a large measuring cup and add enough chicken stock to make 8 cups. Add to the soup and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.
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