I made a smaller (1/3), ‘shorthand’ version of this the other night using canned beans because I didn’t have any dry ones on hand, or the hours to cook them. It only took around an hour, and worked out splendidly:
Start with the mirepoix, sauté for 2 mins, add a bit of salt and saute 2-3 mins more. Add the garlic and cabbage, sauté for 5 mins, followed by the kale and chard (I used collards because like them better, and that’s what I had in the fridge) along with fresh minced sage (it's amazing how long sage will last, frozen in your winter herb garden). Stir as needed until the greens start to cook down—no need to overcook them.
(At this point I added a whole lot of freshly ground white pepper before I saw what I was doing and remembered that the black pepper is now in my new mill, so I followed that up with a bunch of black pepper and what seemed at the time like possibly way too much salt.) Season generously with pepper and salt.
Add the chicken broth and tomatoes (for my 1/3 version, I used a pint each of homemade broth and frozen Hillbillys, both relatively un-salty—something to keep in mind if using canned), along with the potatoes and bay leaf. Stir, cover and let the whole thing simmer over medium heat until the potatoes are just tender, then stir in the canned beans and simmer for 5-10 minutes longer, until the potatoes are just done.
Although it’s pretty good without them, the bread and cheese really do make this soup. I just happened to have half a New French baguette in the freezer, so I warmed it in the oven, sliced and tore it into 1-inch or smaller hunks, stirred them into the soup and let it sit overnight. It turned out perfectly; the chewy crumb and extra crust held the soggy bread together nicely and added a pleasant, almost satiny body to the soup, now more of a stew. Be sure to use good shredded (not grated) parmesan, and let your bowl cool for a bit before you stir it in. Red wine and dark chocolate are nice accompaniments.
(Incidentally, at no point did I actually re-boil the soup, but if you were going to serve it as a meal rather than a workweek of leftovers, you'd probably want to do that. Otherwise, expect it to keep in the fridge and reheat well in the microwave for about 3-4 days.)
Simple and sumptuous… Buon appetito!
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