Zuppa di Fagioli e Erbezzone as it’s known in Italy, is hearty and delicious. This recipe is courtesy of friend of the show and frequent guest chef, Cathi DiCocco.
Makes 6 quarts
2 pounds fresh shelled cannellini beans OR 1 pound dried beans, soaked overnight & drained OR 3- 17oz. cans beans, rinsed & drained
1 whole garlic bulb, cut in half horizontally
3 bay leaves
1 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
8 sticks of celery, chopped
16 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
8 leeks, white part only, OR 3 med. onions, peeled & chopped
4 medium ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and crushed OR 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
4 T. chopped fresh garlic (1 average bulb)
8 sprigs of fresh herb, leaves removed; rosemary, sage OR thyme
3 bunches fresh greens (Swiss chard, escarole, or collards), chopped
2 T. balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste
Cover beans with water. Add bay leaves and halved garlic bulb. Bring to boil and simmer till slightly soft. Cover and let sit 1 hour. Strain through colander, reserving 1/2 of the broth. Remove garlic and bay leaves. If using canned beans simply drain and rinse.
Blend half of the beans into a puree w/broth or water. Reserve the rest of the beans to add to soup near the end of cooking time.
In large stockpot sauté celery, carrots and onions in olive oil until soft. Add tomatoes, chopped garlic, and herbs. After 5 minutes, add chopped greens, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Cook 10 more minutes. Add bean purée and enough broth or water to make a thick soup. Cook slowly for about an hour. Add water or broth as needed to thin. Ten minutes before serving, stir in whole beans to heat through.
Ladle into bowls and top with rustic herb croutons. Drizzle with the finest extra virgin olive oil you can find.