Tuscan White Bean Soup

Adapted from barefootcontessa.com and Giada De Laurentis

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dried white cannellini beans
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 ounces pancetta, ¼-inch diced
  • 2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2 leeks)
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onion
  • 2 cups (½-inch) diced carrots, scrubbed (5 carrots)
  • 2 cups (½-inch) diced celery (4 ribs)
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic (6 cloves)
  • 8 to 10 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Freshly cracked
  • 1 2-inch piece parmesan cheese rind
  • 4 to 5 large leaves Tuscan kale, ribs removed, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • Grated parmesan cheese and fresh lemon juice, for serving (optional)

Directions

  1. At least 8 hours or the night before you make the soup, place the beans in a large bowl and add enough cold water to cover the beans by 2 inches.  Refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.  Drain the beans, rinse under cold running water, and drain again.  Set aside.
  2. In a large (10-inch) pot or Dutch oven such as Le Creuset, heat ¼ cup of olive oil over medium heat, add the pancetta, and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes, until browned. 
  3. Add the leeks, onions, carrots, celery, garlic, and rosemary and cook over medium-low for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender. 
  4. Add the beans, 8 cups of the chicken stock, tomatoes, bay leaves, parmesan rind, salt, and pepper, and bring to a boil. 
  5. Lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 1 hour and 30 minutes, until the beans are tender.  Stir occasionally, scraping the bottom of the pot. 
  6. Discard the bay leaves, add the kale, cover the pot, and allow the soup to sit off the heat for 15 minutes.  Add up to 2 more cups of chicken stock if the soup is too thick.
  7. Reheat slowly, ladle into large shallow soup bowls, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, drizzle with olive oil, and serve hot.