This simple, hearty bean stew hails from Tuscany and showcases one of the region’s favorite ingredients: cannellini beans. We’ve fortified this version of the dish with pancetta, aromatic vegetables, and hearty greens to make a meal in a bowl.
So that the beans cook up plump, whole, and tender-skinned, we soak the beans for at least 8 hours, or up to 24 hours, in salt water before cooking and cook the stew in a low oven. If you don’t have time to spare for a long soak, do a quick soak: Place the rinsed beans in a large heat-resistant bowl. Bring 2 quarts of water and 3 tablespoons salt to a boil, pour the water over the beans, and let them soak for 1 hour. Drain and rinse the beans and use them in place of the long-soaked beans. The beans may not be flawlessly creamy, but they’ll still be good.
For an even more substantial dish, toast 1 1/4-inch slices of country bread under the broiler until golden on both sides and rub the cut sides with a crushed garlic clove. Set one piece of bread in the bottom of each serving bowl and ladle over the stew.