The key to the rich flavor of this peasant soup is the smoked ham hock. Be sure to purchase a meaty cross-cut hock (which looks like an osso buco-cut shank); other hocks offer little meat. Or look for a smoked pork shank. The soup-stew is so thick with beans, leeks, root vegetables, and cabbage that you can almost eat it with a fork. And it's the type of dish that gets better with each successive reheating.
4 ounces dried cannellini or Great Northern beans
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced leek (about 1 large)
4 garlic cloves, chopped
4 cups no-salt-added chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon dried herbes de Provence
1 cross-cut smoked ham hock (about 8 ounces)
1 bay leaf
6 ounces red potatoes, cubed
6 ounces turnip, cubed
1 large carrot, cubed
4 cups thinly sliced Savoy cabbage
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 (1-ounce) slices country bread, toasted
1 garlic clove, halved
1 tablespoon butter, softened
How to Make It
Sort and wash beans. Place in a large Dutch oven. Cover with water to 2 inches above beans. Cover and let stand for 8 hours or overnight. Drain.
Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat; swirl to coat. Add onion. Cover and cook 8 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add leek and chopped garlic; cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add soaked beans, stock, herbes de Provence, ham hocks, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour or until beans are just tender. Remove ham hock; cool slightly. Pick meat from bones; reserve meat. Discard bones and fat.
Add potatoes, turnip, and carrot to pan; cook 10 minutes or until tender. Stir in cabbage; simmer 4 minutes. Stir in parsley, thyme, vinegar, salt, and black pepper.
Rub toast slices with cut sides of garlic clove; spread evenly with butter. Serve toast with soup.