Adapted from smitten kitchen and Gourmet, March 2008
3 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only)
4 medium carrots, halved
lengthwise and cut into 1-inch-wide pieces
3 celery ribs, cut into 1-inch-wide pieces
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
4 thyme sprigs
2 parsley sprigs
1 Turkish bay leaf
3 (19-ounce) cans cannellini or Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 19-ounce can diced tomatoes, with their juice
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 quart stock (I used chicken)
For garlic crumbs
4 cups coarse fresh bread crumbs from a baguette
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Halve leeks lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces, then wash well and pat dry.
Cook leeks, carrots, celery, and garlic in oil with herb sprigs, bay leaf, cloves, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a large heavy pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden, about 15 minutes. Stir in beans, tomatoes, tomato paste, then stock, and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until carrots are tender but not falling apart, about 30 minutes.
Make garlic crumbs while cassoulet simmers:
Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.
Toss bread crumbs with oil, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a bowl until well coated. Spread in a skillet, and toast over medium high heat. Cool crumbs in pan, then return to bowl and stir in parsley.
Discard herb sprigs and bay leaf. Mash some of beans in pot with a potato masher or back of a spoon to thicken broth, or give a quick blend with the immersion blender. Season with salt and pepper. Just before serving, sprinkle with garlic crumbs.