Top-quality olive oil from Kalamata flavors this thick soup, a version of which has nourished Greeks since antiquity. It is still extremely popular during the winter months.
1 lb. medium dried white beans, such as cannellini or great northern,
soaked for 8 hours or overnight
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, preferably from Kalamata
5 inner ribs celery with leaves, coarsely chopped
2–3 large red onions, peeled and chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled, trimmed, and sliced crosswise
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Drain beans, rinse under cold running water, and set aside. Heat half of the oil in a heavy medium pot over medium heat. Add celery, onions, and carrots, stir with a wooden spoon to combine, and cook until vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.
2. Add beans to pot, stir well, then add 6 cups cold water. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, skimming any foam that rises to the surface. Reduce heat to medium-low and gently simmer, stirring occasionally, until beans are very soft and soup is thick and creamy, about 2 hours. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper about 10 minutes before finished cooking.
3. Remove pot from heat and stir remaining oil into soup. Serve with slices of feta and salt-cured sardine filets, if you like.