Author Nancy Harmon Jenkins uses olive oil three ways in this version of the venerable Italian soup: for sautéing garlic, rubbing on the toasts that accompany the dish, and finishing the soup.
Find this recipe in our cookbook, SAVEUR: Italian Comfort Food
- 2 cups dried cannellini beans, soaked overnight
- 2 medium carrots, roughly chopped
- 1 rib celery, roughly chopped
- 1⁄2 yellow onion, roughly chopped
- 3⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic (3 minced, 1 halved)
- 10 oz. squash, such as butternut, peeled and cut into 1⁄2" cubes (about 2 cups)
- 4 large kale leaves, preferably lacinato or cavalo nero, stemmed and chopped
- 1 medium waxy-style potato, peeled and cut into 1⁄2" cubes
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1⁄2 tsp. crushed fennel seeds
- 8 thick slices country-style bread
Drain beans and transfer to a 3-qt. saucepan along with half the carrots, the celery, the onions, and 5 cups water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low; simmer, covered, until beans are tender, 40–45 minutes. Set 3⁄4 cup beans aside; transfer the remaining beans and their cooking liquid to a blender and purée. Set puréed beans aside.
Heat 2 tbsp. oil in a 5-qt. pot over medium heat. Add minced garlic and cook, stirring often, until soft, about 3 minutes. Add reserved bean purée, along with the remaining carrots, the squash, kale, potato, and 1 cup water. Season with salt and pepper, bring to a boil, and reduce heat to medium-low; cook, covered, until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Stir in the crushed fennel seeds and reserved whole beans. Meanwhile, toast the bread and rub it with the cut end of the halved garlic clove. Drizzle each toast with 1 tbsp. oil. To serve, place 1 to 2 pieces toasted bread in the bottom of soup bowls and ladle soup over the top. Drizzle soup with remaining oil.