To save time, substitute 6 cups canned beans, drained and rinsed, for the dried beans. Add to the ribollita along with the bread cubes.
- 1 lb. dried cannellini beans, picked over
- 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 2 yellow onions, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 8 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- 1 bunch kale or savoy cabbage, about 1 lb., coarsely chopped
- 4 carrots, coarsely chopped
- 2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
- 1 Tbs. minced fresh thyme
- 2 tsp. salt, plus more, to taste
- 1 tsp. freshly ground pepper, plus more, to taste
- 3 cups cubed day-old country bread
Soak the beans
In a large bowl, soak the beans in cold water to cover for at least 8 hours or up to overnight. Alternatively, put the beans in a large saucepan with cold water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for 1 hour. Drain the beans and set aside.
Make the broth
In a fry pan over medium heat, warm the 1/4 cup olive oil. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and sauté until it darkens, about 2 minutes more. Pour in the broth, increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat.
Cook the soup
Put the drained beans, kale, carrots, celery and thyme in a slow cooker and sprinkle with the 2 tsp. salt and the 1 tsp. pepper. Pour in the broth mixture. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours according to the manufacturer’s instructions. About 10 minutes before the soup is ready, stir in the bread cubes, cover and continue cooking. When the soup is ready, adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and serve immediately, passing olive oil at the table for drizzling. Serves 6 to 8.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast Series, Slow Cooker, by Norman Kolpas (Oxmoor House, 2007).