2 large or 3 small smoked turkey legs (or thighs)
1 bag (1 lb.) navy beans or other small white beans, soaked in water several hours
4 tbsp. Olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup celery, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans (16 oz. each) diced canned tomatoes
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
1 tbsp. Each, fresh thyme, rosemary, sage, finely chopped
¼ cup fresh parley, finely chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
for garnish: freshly grated Parmesan cheese, extra virgin olive oil, and/or chopped fresh chives
Early in day of serving or one day ahead:
Place the turkey legs into a large stockpot (3 to 5 gallons). Add water to the stockpot until the turkey legs are covered with an inch or so of water. Place stockpot over high heat and bring to a boil. When a boil is reached, reduce heat to a simmer, cover and simmer the turkey legs gently 3 to 4 hours. Remove turkey legs to a serving plate and allow to cool until they can be handled. Continue simmering broth until it reduces down to about one gallon. Strain broth and add the beans and about 2 teaspoons salt. Simmer the beans gently until they are tender, about 30 minutes. Remove all turkey meat from the bones while beans are cooking. Discard turkey skin, bone slivers, etc. Break the turkey meat into bite sized chunks and set aside or refrigerate until just before serving. When beans are tender, remove them from the broth and set beans and broth aside or refrigerate until just before serving.
About 2 hours before serving:
Heat a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil, then the onion and the celery and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are translucent. Add the garlic, cook one minute longer, and then add the tomatoes and the tomato paste. Stir until blended, and then add the reserved turkey broth. Bring soup to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer gently for about 20 minutes, and then add the cooked beans and the turkey meat. Correct for salt and pepper and simmer another 20 minutes or so. This is a hearty soup; the beans may begin to fall apart lending a lovely thickness to the soup. Add the chopped herbs to the soup just before serving and offer grated Parmesan cheese, olive oil and/or chopped chives as a garnish. Serve hot. This soup also makes a great main course for a light meal when served with a salad and good crusty bread!
Makes 8 to 10 servings; extras freeze beautifully.