You can use canned beans (use a good quality brand, I recommend S&W or Bush's) or you can cook dry beans.
If starting with dry beans, soak about 3/4 cup of dry beans overnight in cold water (or pour boiling water over the beans and soak for 1 hour). Drain. Cover with a couple inches of salted water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for an hour, or until tender enough to eat. Then drain and use in this recipe as directed.
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3/4 cup chopped onion
- 3/4 cup chopped carrot
- 3/4 cup chopped celery
- 1 Tbsp minced garlic
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme or a teaspoon of dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
- 1 Yukon gold potato, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
- 2 cups sliced savoy or curly cabbage
- 1 zucchini, cut into 3/4-inch chunks
- 2 medium fresh ripe tomatoes (romas if available), cored, peeled, chopped
- 6 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock for vegetarian version)
- 1 15-ounce can cannellini or great northern white beans, drained (about 1 1/2 cups cooked white beans)
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Parmesan cheese, grated for garnish
1 Sauté onions, carrots, celery, garlic in olive oil: Heat oil in a 4 to 5-quart thick-bottomed pot on medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot, and celery. Cook until lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook a minute more.
2 Add herbs, potato, vegetables, stock: Add the bay leaf, thyme, fennel seeds. Add the potato, cabbage, zucchini, and tomatoes. Add the chicken stock.
3 Simmer until vegetables are cooked through: Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Partially cover and simmer for 20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and cooked through.
4 Add beans, parsley, salt, pepper: Add the beans and parsley to the soup. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 more minutes. Remove bay leaf and thyme sprigs.
Serve with a sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese.