Monday, March 09, 2009

White bean, kale and pancetta soup

It's snowing out, but I think it's actually Spring. It's pretty cold, so a hearty soup was sounding really good, so I put this together. I just kind of made it up this afternoon, and it turned out a lot better than I could have imagined. This could be due to the fact that I usually am too cheap to buy pancetta and tend to just use bacon instead.

And when is a soup pretty enough to photograph?

4 oz pancetta, diced
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cans canellini beans
~4 cups chicken broth
3 carrots, peeled and julienned
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
2 cups shredded kale
1 cup white wine
salt and pepper

First, dice the pancetta and brown it at the bottom of a pot. Once pancetta is crispy, remove from the pot and set aside. Add diced onions and minced garlic to the fat rendered from the pancetta, and cook until softened (add olive oil if the pancetta did not produce enough fat). Pour in the wine and use a spoon to scrape the burned bits of pancetta off the bottom of the pot. Add 1 can beans to the softened onion and cook about 5 minutes. Add about half of the broth to the pot and use an immersion blender to blend the onions and beans together. Pour in the remaining broth and bring to a low boil. Add the carrots and tomatoes to the boiling mixture and lower the heat so that the pot is at a steady simmer. Allow to simmer for 5-7 minutes until carrots are cooked to the consistency you like. Add the second can of beans, including the liquid in the can, and bring back to a simmer. Add the set-aside pancetta too, and simmer together for 5-10 minutes. Stir in the shredded kale and let simmer about 5 minutes, then taste the kale to ensure that you're satisfied with its consistency and level of bitterness. Remove the pot from heat and taste and adjust salt and pepper (the pancetta is very salty, so you won't need much salt at all). Garnish with shredded/grated parmesan and serve hot.
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