Tuscan Pinto Bean and Vegetable Soup with Parmesan Croutons

1 cup dried borlotti or pinto beans
8 cups water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion (about 1 large)
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 garlic clove, minced
5 cups cold water
2 cups (1/2-inch-thick) slices zucchini (about 2 medium)
1 1/2 cups (1/2-inch) cubes Yukon gold or red potato (about 8 ounces)
1 cup (1-inch) cut green beans (about 1/4 pound)
3/4 cup (1/2-inch-thick) slices carrot
1 cup canned tomato puree (about 1/2 [16-ounce] can)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chopped Swiss chard or fresh spinach
6 (1/2-inch-thick) slices country white bread (about 4 ounces)
6 tablespoons (about 1 1/2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese


Sort and wash beans; place in a large bowl. Cover with water to 2 inches above beans; cover and let stand 8 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse beans.

Combine beans and 8 cups water in a large Dutch oven; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 1/2 hours or until beans are tender. Drain and set aside.

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, parsley, and garlic to pan; saut? 2 minutes. Add cooked beans, 5 cups water, and next 7 ingredients (through pepper). Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 35 minutes. Add chard; simmer 5 minutes or until chard is tender.

Preheat broiler.

Place bread slices on a baking sheet; top each with 1 tablespoon cheese. Broil 2 minutes or until cheese melts and bread is lightly toasted. Ladle soup into individual bowls; top with cheese croutons.
from Cooking Light.