When my mother cooked the beans from our garden for the pasta e fagioli she always gave me this treat at midmorning. Try it as an unusual and tasty starter.
250 gr of cannellini beans (preferably dried but also the canned ones work well)
4 tbsp of olive oil
8 slices of toasted rustic bread
1 clove garlic
oregano, 3 bay leaves and fresh thyme (this latter is optional)
If using the dried beans, soak them overnight, and after rinsing them well, cover them with three fingers of water. Cook them covered on a moderate heat for two hours or until tender. They should simmer but not boil. During this time if the water gets absorbed keep adding a little boiling water, make sure it is boiling or it will bring the temperature down. Do not use a metal spoon to stir them as this seems to harden the beans. I have never checked if it is true, or just superstition: I pass it on to you just as I received it. When beans are cooked but not mushy, add the bay leaf and cook for further 10 minutes. Season with salt and turn off the heat. If using the canned beans do not discard their water but add an additional half a cup of water, the bay leaf and let them simmer on a moderate heat for 5-10 minutes. The consistency must be that of a medium dense soup. In a pasta bowl arrange the toasted bread which you have smeared with the garlic. Pour enough beans and liquid to cover the bread. Sprinkle with oregano and a tbsp of olive oil. Garnish with sprigs of fresh thyme (optional).