(Makes 4 1/2 Quarts [4.2 litres])


– 2 cups (1 pound/454 grams) dried cannellini beans, picked over)

– 2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil

– 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced

– 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

– 1 carrot, chopped

– 2 celery stalks, chopped

– 4 ounces (114 grams) pancetta or prosciutto, diced

– 2 bunches cavolo nero ( Tuscan kale ) or regular kale (about 2 pounds/908 grams total), tough stems removed, leaves cut 2 inches (5 cm) in length

– 1/2 Savoy cabbage (about 12 ounces/342 grams), cut into 2-inch (5-cm) – long strips

– 4 quarts (3.8 litres) water, plus more if necessary

– One 1-pound (454-gram) loaf crusty bread, cut into 1/2- inch cubes

– Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


– Place the beans in a large pot and cover with water. Let soak at room temperature for at least 3 hours, or up 12 hours. Drain and rinse well. Set aside.

-Place a 6- to 8-quart stockpot over medium heat, and when it is hot, add the olive oil. Add the onion, garlic, carrot, and celery and cook until the vegetables are wilted and softened, about 10 minutes.

– Add the pancetta and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until fragrant and melting, about 3 minutes. Add the beans and cook until the skin just begins to crisp, about 2 minutes. Add the kale, in two batches, and stir until wilted. Add the Savoy cabbage and stir until wilted, 3 to 4 minutes, then add the spinach and cook, stirring until wilted.

– Add the water and bring to a gentle boil. Then reduce the heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Add the bread, mix well, and set aside for 1 hour.

– Return the pot low heat and simmer for 1 hour. Add more water if necessary: the soup should look thick and dense but not dry. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let the soup rest for 15 minutes before serving.