When I've just stashed batches of newly minted chicken stock, we're ready and running in the soup department. They're burning holes in my pockets, so to speak. So, I riffle through a cookbook or two to see what will appeal. This one had cannellini beans, kale, pancetta and chestnuts, a winter comfort meal if I ever heard one. Especially since there was a package of roasted peeled chestnuts lurking from Thanksgiving. Besides, having read Amateur Gourmet's kale salad recipe, and wanting to try that, kale was on my shopping list. Two things to do with a largeish bunch of kale.
Simona with macadamia nuts from our treeYes folks, even in Hawaii we do have winter, albeit wtih sun, blue skies and a bright orange flowering African Tulip outside. It can be chilly, especially in the mornings. Fellow blogger, Simona came to visit and can attest to that. We don't get many food bloggers stopping by here on The Big Island, so it was lovely to meet her and her husband.
The soup does call for pancetta, but you can certainly use bacon, as I did, or go without and use a mushroom stock to make this totally vegetarian. It was so yummy, we almost polished off the whole thing at one sitting. And nicely warming on a cool evening. The Gourmet Today Cookbook was my reference for this, and unusually for me, I pretty much stuck to the recipe. Aside that is from the bacon switcharoo. As per Ms. Reichl, the Tuscan kale, or cavolo nero, with its vibrant green ruffled leaves and delicately rich, sweet flavor, does pair beautifully with chestnuts and white beans.
White Bean and Tuscan Kale Soup with Chestnuts
From The Gourmet Today Cookbook, edited by Ruth Reichl
1/2 lb. (about 1 1/4 cups) dried white beans, such as cannellini, great northern or navy, picked over and rinsed
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 lb. thinly sliced pancetta, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 (14-15 oz.) can whole tomatoes in juice, drained, juice reserved, and chopped
3 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
1 (3x2 inch) piece Parmigiano-Reggiano rind (about 1/2 inch thick)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
about 7 1/2 oz. peeled, cooked whole chestnuts, halved
1/2 lb. Tuscan kale, or regular kale, stems and center ribs discarded, leaves torn into bite-sized pieces
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
Parigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grated, to sprinkle on top
Soak beans in cold water to cover by at least 2 inches, at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours; drain.
Heat oil in a 6 to 8 quart, wide heavy pot, over moderate heat until hot but not smoking. Add bacon or pancetta, onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally until browned, about 8 minutes. Add tomatoes and juice, beans, stock, water, cheese rind, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until beans are tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Mine took about 1 1/2 hours.
Note: good I used a large pot, the kale comes about up to the top before it cooks down.
Discard cheese rind and stir in chestnuts. Transfer 2 cups soup to a blender and puree (use caution - it's very hot) until smooth. Return to the pot and stir in kale. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally until leaves are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in thyme. Sprinkle soup with Parmesan to taste and serve with extra olive oil, thyme sprigs, pepper, etc. as desired
This is definitely a main dish, hearty sort of soup. And, sooo good. I'm sharing with Souper Sundays, hosted by fellow Hawaiian blogger, Deb over at Kahakai Kitchen, for next week's edition, and with Sue, hosting Cookbook Sundays at Couscous and Consciousness. So, hop over and check out some tasty recipes.