Thursday, February 23, 2012

Italian Cannellini and Kale soup

This is one of my favorite comfort soups. It’s brothy, yet rich and flavorful. I had this today for lunch and I feel like I’ve been to Yoga. Ahhh, peace… love...

Okay, not really, but it’s good. Now on to nuggets of information that is probably TMI, but I feel compelled to tell you anyway : ). First an admission. I do not soak my beans : /. I don’t think I ever have, even once. Why pray tell not? Well, it’s very simple and mind you, only my opinion. But to me, soaking does not really take off that much cooking time and it always seems to separate the outer layer of shell a bit so that it pulls away from the body of the bean and that’s just something that does not appeal to me.

I’m already taking cover incase of incoming hate mail on this subject. If you want to soak them overnight, do it! It’s a personal thing. You can add sweet Italian sausage or any particular sausage your like. I like to fry sausage in the casing and serve it at the side of the bowl (in the bowl). You can crumble it and fry it, or slice it into coins, if you like. I love the addition of the sausage, but I’m counting calories, so it’s out for now.

Godere di questa minestra!

Serves 6 to 8

1 pound dried cannellini beans, rinsed well
10 cups of water
4 to 6 ounces sliced pancetta or salt pork (optional, but tasty)
1 can diced tomatoes or 1 large tomato, diced
3 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus 2 teaspoons for the water.
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sugar (to take away any bitters) Again this is optional.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped small
4 garlic cloves, minced
¼ to ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1 nice bunch fresh kale, roughly chopped

Parmesan cheese (optional)

Add washed beans to a 5 quart stock or soup pot and fill with three times their volume of water. Leave about three inches at the top to reduce boil over. Add sliced salt pork. If you are not using salt pork, then add 2 teaspoon salt to the water. Bring beans to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer and cook uncovered for 1 ½ to 2 hours, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Beans are done when you can smash a bean between two fingers easily.

When beans are done, stir in tomatoes, chicken stock, salt, pepper and sugar. Allow to continue to simmer on low while you prepare the remaining ingredients.

Add olive oil to a large frying pan on medium high heat. Add onion, garlic, red pepper, Italian seasoning and fennel seed. Cook until the onion is translucent. Add chopped kale and cook just to a wilt.

Add cooked ingredients to soup and stil. Cook another 10 minutes or so on medium heat.

Spoon into bowls, garnish with grated Parmesan cheese
and serve with crusty bread and herbed olive oil.

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