This is a comforting, hearty soup with flavors reminiscent of northern Italy. We used baby lima beans because we just love their tender, creamy consistency, although in Italy it would likely be made with cannellini beans or great Northern beans. Use whichever beans you love or have on hand; just take note that the cooking time will vary slightly.
- 2 tablespoons tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cups cup small-diced onion
- 1 cup cup small-diced celery
- 1 cup cup small-diced red bell pepper
- 1 tablespoon tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt
- 1⁄2 teaspoon teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1⁄4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 8 cups cup chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 pound dried white beans (cannellini, baby lima, or great Northern), rinsed, picked over, soaked overnight, and drained
- 1 piece Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese rind, about 1 × 3 inches
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 cups cup water
- 1 1⁄2 pound broccoli rabe, tough stem ends trimmed, chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- Grated zest of 1 lemon
- 2 teaspoons teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 6 ounces ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grated (about 1 1⁄2 cups)
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
- Heat the olive oil in an 8-quart soup pot or stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery, bell pepper, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and 1⁄4 teaspoon of the black pepper and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are tender, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic, dried Italian herbs, and crushed red pepper and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the stock, beans, Parmesan rind, bay leaf, and water and bring to a low boil. Reduce the heat to simmer gently and cook, partially covered and stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender, 45 to 60 minutes.
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer about 1 cup of the beans from the pot to a small bowl and mash them with the back of a spoon. Return the mashed beans to the soup and add the remaining 1 tablespoon salt. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and continue to cook, uncovered, until the broth thickens slightly, about 15 minutes. Add the remaining black pepper, the broccoli rabe and the rosemary sprig and continue to cook until the broccoli rabe is just tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the lemon zest and lemon juice. Remove the Parmesan rind, bay leaf, and rosemary sprig and discard them. Serve the soup in wide, shallow bowls, garnished with grated Parmesan and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.