White Bean & Kale Soup Peppered with Pancetta

White Bean and Kale Soup Peppered with Pancetta

Since I was so busy with my organizing frenzy, no plans were made for dinner that evening. No inspiration was to be found. However, preaching my own mantras to myself, especially, "Use up what you already have.", I went to the cupboard and discovered I still had the ingredients for a soup I had planned to make the week before but never did. My family loves this soup and it incorporates one of those nutrient filled winter greens...kale. I'm sure if you wanted a vegetarian version, you could omit the pancetta and substitute vegetable stock for the chicken stock. Wouldn't be quite as richly flavored but would still be good, I'm sure. If you don't have cannellini beans, you could substitute any other white bean that you like. Make sure you read through the recipe below before starting. Dried beans are added at a different time than canned beans.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb dried cannellini beans OR 3 15-oz cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 oz pancetta, diced
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 4 large celery sticks, diced
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 cups chicken stock
  • 6 c loosely packed kale, chopped (I prefer lacinato kale.)
  • grated, parmesan cheese

Directions:
If using dried beans, rinse and pick over the dried beans, removing any possible pebbles. Put them in a heat-proof bowl. Cover beans with 8 cups of boiling water and let them soak for 1 hour. When they are finished, drain them in a colander. Meanwhile, start the rest of your soup.


In a large soup pot, heat your olive oil. Add pancetta and brown, about 5 minutes. Add onions, carrots and celery. Saute until soft about 8 minutes. Add garlic and saute 1 minute more. At this point you can remove from heat until your beans are ready.

Once dried beans have finished soaking, add them to the pot with your vegetables. Stir in the oregano, red pepper flakes, salt, a few cracks of black pepper and your chicken broth.

Bring the soup to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 45 minutes. (30 minutes if you're using canned beans.)  Test for seasoning. Adding a bit more salt and pepper or red pepper flakes if needed.

Add your kale to the pot and if using canned beans, add them at this point as well. Simmer another 30 minutes until beans are soft.

Ladle into soup bowls. Top with grated parmesan cheese and enjoy.

Yield: One big pot full.

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