1 cup dried cannellini beans (or 2 cups canned)
¼ cup olive oil
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1 large onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
5 thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons salt
3 cups water
1 small leek, diced
½ pound green beans, cut into 1-inch lengths
1 medium zucchini, cut into small dice
2 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
2 cups spinach, coarsely chopped
Grated parmesan cheese, for serving
If using dried beans, soak them overnight in a large pot of water. Simmer 2 hours or until tender. Drain and set aside. If using canned beans, drain, rinse and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and carrots, and cook for 15 minutes, or until onion is translucent. Add the garlic, thyme, bay leaf and salt, and cook for 5 minutes longer.
Add water and bring to a boil. When boiling, add the leek and green beans. After 5 minutes, add the zucchini and tomatoes. After 15 minutes, add spinach and beans and cook 5 more minutes. If the soup is too thick, add water. Remove the bay leaf and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Serve in bowls, each garnished with grated parmesan cheese.
Adapted from "The Art of Simple Food" by Alice Waters (Clarkson Potter, 2007)