Monday, February 18, 2013

Mediterranean Bean and Bacon Soup


3 tablespoons EVOO, plus more for drizzling
5 ounces pancetta, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
2 to 3 small stalks celery, finely diced
2 medium carrots, finely diced
1 large fresh bay leaf
1 onion, finely diced
Herb bundle of fresh parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme tied with kitchen string
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup dry white wine
6 cups chicken stock
Two 15-ounce cans cannellini beans
1 small bunch Tuscan kale, stems and ribs removed and leaves finely shredded or chopped
Freshly grated nutmeg
1 rind from a wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano
Shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano, for serving
Crusty bread, for serving


Heat the EVOO in a Dutch oven or medium soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook until crisp. Add the garlic, celery, carrots, bay leaf, onions and herb bundle and season with a little salt and more pepper. Cook until soft, 7 to 8 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Deglaze with the wine, stirring and scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon. Stir for 1 minute more. Add the stock and bring to a low boil.

Add a few ladles of the soup to a food processor along with 1 can of beans and puree until smooth. Return the puree to the soup and stir to combine. Add the remaining can of beans and the kale and cook until the kale is wilted. Season with a hint of nutmeg. Add the cheese rind and simmer for 15 minutes at a low bubble to let the flavors combine. Adjust the seasonings.

Remove the cheese rind, herb bundle and bay leaf from the soup. Ladle the soup into shallow bowls and top with shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano and a drizzle of EVOO. Serve with bread for mopping.

Cook's Note: The soup can be covered and refrigerated for a make-ahead meal. Reheat over medium heat, partially covered. Add about 1 cup water if the soup becomes too thick to ladle.

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