Twice-Cooked Tuscan Bread Soup
SERVES 6, TWICE
This is one of Tuscany's most famous bean dishes. Freshly made, this is a hearty but brothy soup; reheated the next day, it becomes a deeply flavorful, almost porridgy stew.
1 lb. dried zolfini or cannellini beans
Fruity extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and thickly sliced
2 ribs celery, trimmed and thickly sliced
2 all-purpose potatoes, peeled and thickly sliced
1 large bunch swiss chard, trimmed and coarsely
1 bunch cavolo nero or kale, trimmed and coarsely
1⁄2 small savoy cabbage, cored and coarsely chopped
1 cup chopped canned Italian plum tomatoes
3 thick slices day-old country white bread
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Cook beans according to the Tuscan-Style White Beans recipe, reserving cooking liquid. Reserve 1 cup cooked beans; then purée remaining beans along with 2 cups of the cooking liquid. Set beans, purée, and remaining cooking liquid aside in three separate containers.
2. Heat 1⁄4 cup of the oil in a large earthenware casserole over medium-low heat. Add onions, and cook until soft, about 20 minutes. Add carrots, celery, potatoes, chard, cavolo nero, and cabbage, stirring until mixed. Add tomatoes, cover, and cook until greens wilt, about 20 minutes.
3. Add puréed beans and remaining cooking liquid, and simmer, covered, until vegetables are soft, about 1 hour. Add bread and reserved beans, stir gently, cover, return to a simmer, and cook until bread begins to soften, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve. Refrigerate leftover soup.
4. The next day, preheat oven to 375º. Heat the leftover soup in the casserole in the oven, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 1 hour. For the last 30 minutes, do not stir; let soup brown lightly. Drizzle with another 1⁄4 cup oil, and serve.