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Tuscan White Bean Soup

This dish requires about an hour's cooking time. If your're having more than eight guests, double the ingredients. But don't aim for too many leftovers: We don't recommend freezing white-bean soup because the texture breaks down after a while. (Although an extra bowl or two will keep in the refridgerator for three to four days.) Pair the soup with a full-bodied red wine.

  • prep: 30 mins
    total time: 1 hour 30 mins
  • servings: 8

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Ingredients

For the Soup:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 pound pancetta, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 dried chile, crumbled
  • 3/4 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1 pound dried cannellini beans, soaked overnight and drained
  • 9 cups homemade or low-sodium store-bought chicken stock
  • 1 large bunch cavolo nero (Tuscan kale), cleaned, stemmed, and roughly chopped (8 cups)
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

For the Garnish:

  • 1 loaf Tuscan bread, cut into 1/2-inch slices, brushed with olive oil and toasted in a 300-degree oven
  • 1/4 pound pancetta, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 dried chile, crumbled
  • Crushed red pepper flakes

Directions

  1. Step 1

    In a medium Dutch oven or a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add pancetta and cook until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, chile, and fennel seed, and cook for 2 minutes.

  2. Step 2

    Add cannellini beans and chicken stock, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 50 minutes, or until beans are tender.

  3. Step 3

    Add Tuscan kale. Stir and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, until kale is tender.

  4. Step 4

    Serve in a bowl over a slice of bread. Garnish with pancetta, tomatoes, onion, olive oil, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and crushed red pepper flakes.

Source
Blueprint, January/February 2008

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