- 200g of dried cannellini or haricot beans, soaked overnight in water
- 1 bouquet garni made from a sprig of rosemary, a sprig of thyme, and 2 bay leaves
- 4 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 carrots, diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 2 leeks, very thinly sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 dried red chilli, finely chopped
- 3 tomatoes, skinned, deseeded, and chopped
- 2 tbsp of tomato purée
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 cavolo nero or curly kale leaves, or the outer leaves of a Savoy cabbage, tough stalks removed and the leaves coarsely chopped
- 6 slices of stale bread
- 1 garlic clove, cut in half
- Drain the beans and place them in a large pan with the bouquet garni and twice their volume of cold water. Bring to the boil, then boil hard for 10 minutes. Lower the heat, and simmer gently for 1–2 hours or until tender, adding more water if needed. Remove the pan from the heat, discard the bouquet garni, and leave the beans to cool in their cooking water.
- Heat the oil in a large heavy pot, then add the onion, carrots, celery, leeks, garlic, and chilli. Cover with a lid and sweat over a low heat for 10 minutes, stirring once or twice. Add the tomatoes and tomato purée and cook over a moderate heat for 3–4 minutes. Add the beans, their cooking water and enough water to cover the vegetables generously. Season generously. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Purée half the soup in a blender, then return to the pan. Add the cavolo nero and simmer for 10 minutes or until tender. Adjust the seasonings.
- Rub the bread with the garlic and arrange in a warm shallow dish or tureen. Spoon in the soup and serve with a bottle of best olive oil out on the table for people to help themselves.
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