Ribollita for the overworked and overweathered

Enough with the snacks ladies, it’s time to start your cooking engines. There is slush outside serious enough to get into boots that are up to your armpits. Take a deep breath, relax that tightness that comes with having to cope with too much to do and grabs you in the lower back and across your chest. Think about lovely celery and get it out of the fridge along with sweet and luscious carrots and tight yellow onions. In one pan, cover a half pound of new dried cannellini with plenty of water and bring to a boil. Let them sit for an hour, off the heat and covered. Rinse and start again, with a garlic clove, a piece of tomato, a drizzle of olive oil, a good dash of salt and a sprig of thyme or a bay leaf and more water. Let these go until soft, covered with a circle of parchment paper that fits right inside the pot.
Heat up a heavy dutch oven and drizzle it with the salve of the gods, your best and beautiful olive olive. Top and tail three cloves of garlic–don’t worry about getting the skins off–cut them in half and get them in the pan. Bring them to just past pale golden and add a sprig of fresh thyme and a sprig of fresh parsley. The skins will pop right off the garlic now. Add two onions, the inside stalks of the celery, and one pound of carrots, all in a fine dice. Over medium heat, saute this around, adding more olive oil if you need to keep things slick. Season with kosher salt until the vegetables taste even more than delicious. Don’t leave the pan. Stick with it. Give it a stir about every five minutes, until the vegetables hardly resist your teeth when you bite into them. Add a 28 ounce can of San Marzano tomatoes that you crush first with your hand. Let this simmer for about half an hour. When your beans are tender, smash a third of them and add them to the tomato mixture. Add the rest whole, and enough of the bean cooking liquid to make a thick soup. You can either add chopped swiss chard right to the pot, or saute it first with a little olive oil before it goes in. Use one bunch. Taste the soup for deliciousness. Make garlic croutons by chopping up yesterday’s baguette into cubes, tossing it with olive oil and and whole cloves of garlic and baking them at 375 until just about golden. Put a few croutons into a bowl and pour a serving of soup on top. Shower them with slivers of parmigiano reggiano and if you have it, a drizzle of olive oil that has just been pressed.
I miss Italy. Like a heart valve.

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