If you have partial bags of dried beans loitering in the pantry, throw them all in the pot to make this anything-goes fall soup. Perfumed with thyme and sage, it's creamy, homey and gratifyingly resourceful.
In a large pot, combine beans and 6 cups water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Cover; let stand 1 hour. Drain and rinse.*
In a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high. Add fennel, celery, onion and carrots. Cook and stir until golden and tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic; cook 1 minute more. Add broth, thyme, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Stir in reserved beans and bring to a boil; reduce heat. Cover and simmer until beans are tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Remove thyme and bay leaves.
Stir in squash, potato and sage. Cover and simmer until squash is just tender, about 20 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk together cream and flour; add to soup. Cook and stir until slightly thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir 1 minute more. Serve garnished with parsley.
In Step 1, we use the "quick soak" method for dried beans. An alternative is to place rinsed beans and water in pot, then cover and let soak on the counter overnight.