Deep Winter Minestra – Beans and Greens Soup
Easy and inexpensive to prepare and serve this hearty, healthy soup any night of the week!
For a more traditional flavor of this escarole and bean soup, use chicken stock, but I prefer beef or mushroom stock with the darker greens and the addition of meaty mushrooms. –RR
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 1/3 pound thick-cut speck (smoked pancetta) or butcher thick-cut bacon, diced 1/8-inch
- 3/4 pound crimini or mixed wild mushrooms (or a mix of wood ear and crimini mushrooms), thinly sliced
- 1 medium onion, halved across and thinly sliced
- 4 large cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
- 2 small bundles or 1 large bundle (about a pound) lacinato or Tuscan black kale, stemmed and very thinly sliced
- Salt and pepper
- Freshly grated nutmeg (about 1/4 teaspoon)
- 1 can cannellini beans
- 1 quart chicken, beef or mushroom stock
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup dried pasta, such as penne rigate, mezze rigatoni or whole wheat short-cut pasta
- 1 tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar or balsamic drizzle
- Pecorino cheese, for grating
- Crusty bread, for mopping
Heat a soup pot over medium to medium-high heat. Add the EVOO, a couple of turns of the pan. Add the speck or bacon and crisp, 2-3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and brown, 6-7 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and cook 5-6 minutes more to soften.
Wilt the greens into the pot and season with a little salt, lots of pepper and some nutmeg. Add the beans, stock and water to the pot and bring up to a boil. Add the pasta, reduce the heat to a low, rolling boil and cook until the pasta is al dente. Check the seasoning, then serve in shallow bowls with some grated Pecorino on top and crusty bread alongside, for mopping.