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
- 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.
- 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.
- Remove pot from heat and stir remaining oil into soup. Serve with slices of feta and salt-cured sardine filets, if you like.