Unarguably, this is one of Italy’s most famous staple dishes. It’s made everywhere, and the ingredients vary from season to season and region to region, as well as from cook to cook. Feel free to improvise — this is just a good starting point for Italian comfort food. Although it’s not traditionally done this way, I like adding the herbs and garlic near the end of the cooking time so that they remain fresh and alive in taste.
• 2 tbsp olive oil
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 1 cup dried cannellini beans or great northern beans
• 28 ounces crushed canned tomatoes
• Parmesan cheese rind
• 1 bay leaf
• 5 cups water
• 3 celery ribs, with leaves
• 1 medium potato, peeled and diced
• 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
• 1 cup fresh spinach or chard, sliced and loosely packed
• Leaves from 1 sprig fresh rosemary, chopped
• 3 fresh sage leaves, chopped
• 3 cloves garlic
• 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1. In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and sauté the onion for about 10 minutes, or until lightly browned.
2. Rinse the beans thoroughly and add them to the slow cooker along with the onion, tomatoes, Parmesan rind, bay leaf, and water. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, until the beans are tender.
3. Add the celery, potato, carrots, and spinach, and salt to taste. Cook for 1 to 2 hours longer, until the potato is tender. Stir in the rosemary and sage. Using a garlic press, mince the garlic into the soup.
4. Ladle the soup into bowls and top each with a generous sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.
Want more one-pot meals? Find more recipes in Easy Meals: One-Pot Recipes for Every Season.
This recipe has been reprinted with the permission of 50 Simple Soups for the Slow Cooker, by Lynn Alley, published by Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2011. Buy this book from our store: 50 Simple Soups for the Slow Cooker.