This white bean soup is traditional in our part of Tuscany. Make it with the freshest, greenest oil you can find. The new Tuscan oil usually arrives in the U.S. in late winter.
In a deep cast-iron dutch oven, sauté one finely chopped onion, 3 diced carrots, 3 stalks of celery, chopped, and 4 tablespoons of minced parsley in 4 tablespoons of new extra-virgin olive oil until the onions and celery are soft and translucent, about fifteen minutes. Add 14.5 can tomatoes, chopped, and cook another 5 – 10 minutes.
Open and drain two 19 ounce cans of cannellini beans. Set aside a half-cup of the beans and purée the rest; add the purée to the ingredients in the cooking pot with about 3 cups chicken stock and 3 cups water and bring to a simmer.
Add 1 clove minced garlic, 1 medium bunch kale, chopped, 2 chopped zucchini, and 2 peeled and chopped potatoes. Add ¾ tablespoon thyme, ½ teaspoon crushed fennel seeds (optional) and salt and pepper or to taste. Simmer for one hour, adding more water if necessary. The soup will be very thick.
Just before serving, add the reserved whole white beans. Cut slices of Ciabatta bread, grill or toast them, and rub them with garlic. Put a half slice of bread at the bottom of each serving bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Fill the bowl with soup, and put the other half slice of toast on top and drizzle with more oil.
Serves 8 - 10.