White Bean and Tuscan Kale Soup with Chestnuts

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 tree
Yes 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.


Couscous & Consciousness said...

What a great soup - this is such a great combination of ingredients.

I had no idea that you got winter in Hawaii - I thought it was pretty much the same temperature year round.

Thanks so much for sharing this with Cookbook Sundays.

Sue :-)

Laura said...

This looks like a perfect winter soup. I have never cooked with chestnuts before, but I might just have to try!

Joanne said...

I have this cookbook and definitely don't cook enough out of it! This soup sounds like it would be an instant favorite!

Simona Carini said...

This is a lovely soup. I am about to go through another period of kale flooding due to sunny weather. I did indeed wear a sweater in the morning and evening while there. That was my first time seeing macadamia nuts still in their shells. It was a pleasure to meet you and I hope to see you again soon :)

Rachel said...

You are so lucky to have met Simona (and her bodacious biceps!) in person. She seems like such a lovely, interesting, smart person. Wouldn't it be great if all of us Cook the Books bloggers got to have a roundup in person some day?

Deb in Hawaii said...

Like Rachel, I am jealous that you got to meet Simona in person. ;-) I love the idea of the chestnuts in this soup--very unique. It looks delicious. Thanks for sharing it with Souper Sundays--it is in this week's round up. Aloha.