Sunday, January 23, 2005

IMBB 11 - Beans and Greens Soup Revisited

Back in June, shortly after I started this blog, I made a soup from leftover beans that I really enjoyed. However, because of the time involved in making the beans, I had not gotten around to making the soup again. For IMBB 11, I decided that I would recreate this soup using canned beans so I could have it whenever the urge strikes!

When I originally came up with the bean recipe, I had in mind the traditional Tuscan dish in which white beans are cooked in a flask with olive oil and sage and also Boston baked beans (more familiar to me) in which white beans are baked with salt pork, molasses and spices in a bean pot. I wound up with a mixture of cannellini beans, olive oil, pancetta, onion, garlic, tomatoes, and sage baked in a bean pot. The beans filled the house with a heavenly aroma, tasted great, but for some reason were very mushy. It turned out, though, that they were easily transformed into a fantastic soup with the simple additions of chicken stock and greens.

My choice of greens for the soup also reflected the Tuscan slant I had chosen. Dinosaur kale is either the same as or similar to Tuscan kale or cavolo nero. (I’m a little confused on this point, as I’ve seen it characterized both ways.) It seems to be available just about year-round at my local Whole Foods.

To make the soup using canned beans, I sautéed the onions, garlic, pancetta and tomatoes in a generous amount of olive oil, then added the beans, chicken stock and sage and simmered it all for about half an hour. At that point I removed some of the beans and pureed the rest using an immersion blender. Finally, I returned the reserved beans to the pot along with the kale and simmered it for a few more minutes. I was thrilled with the result – it was delicious and took less than an hour! The soup as I made it was quite brothy but with body. You could easily make a thicker soup by pureeing more of the beans. The kale was still a little al dente (can you say that about kale?) and I loved it that way. When I tasted the soup before adding the kale, I was afraid I had over-salted it, however I found the kale balanced it out somehow. Tasting the finished soup, I thought it was perfectly seasoned. The leftover soup kept well and was easily reheated in the microwave.

I don’t have very many original recipes under my belt and fewer still that I would make over and over again, but this is definitely one that fits the latter category. I must say I’m mighty pleased with it!!

Beans and Greens Soup 2

about 6 servings

1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 ounces pancetta, diced (you could substitute regular bacon)
¼ cup olive oil
1 cup canned diced tomatoes with juice (I used the type with no added salt)
4 ½ cups cooked cannellini beans (3 15 ½ oz cans rinsed and drained)
5 large sage leaves, chopped
6 cups chicken stock (I used Whole Foods 365 Brand in the box)
½ teaspoon salt (adjust as necessary depending on the saltiness of your tomatoes and stock)
1 bunch dinosaur kale - trim out heavy stems and slice crosswise into ¼-inch slices
black pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the pancetta and sauté for 2 or 3 minutes (don’t brown it). Add the onions and garlic and sauté until the onions are translucent – another couple of minutes. Add the tomatoes with the juice and cook for a few more minutes. Add the beans, stock, sage, and salt. Simmer about half an hour. Using a strainer or holey spoon, remove about 1 ½ cups of beans. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup, then return the reserved beans to the pot and add the kale. Simmer for another 10 minutes. Ladle into bowls and top with freshly ground black pepper to taste. Enjoy!


Some person said...

Your soup looks really good! Sounds like just the thing for a cold winters day. Yum!

cucina testa rossa said...

wow cathy, this looks and sounds delicious. my mouth is watering! i can't wait to try it. no more soaking beans for me! i have yet to see kale here but i'll ask my favorite vegetable vendors Bernard et Michelle at the next market day. merci beaucoup!

Anonymous said...

Yum, sounds great and looks awesome. I absolutely love kale in bean soups. I've never seen or heard of dinosaur kale, though....I guess regular kale will do. (As an alternative to canned beans, you can always buy a pressure cooker...less than 10 minutes for cooked beans. You still have to soak them, but you can do that before you leave for work in the morning. Dried beans are so much cheaper than canned...but I do use canned sometimes, too, for convenience.)

Cathy said...

Hi Christine - thanks! I really did enjoy it!

Hi Laura! Thank you! The canned beans make it quick, but there's no reason not to use cooked dried beans if you prefer those. My problem was more with the way I had prepared the beans back in June - I baked them all day (after soaking them all night), and they were good but not great. Only when I turned them into soup were they great - this recipe just short circuits that whole process by a day or two!!

Hi Alice! Thanks! I really like the dinosaur kale, but I'm sure regular kale would be great also. I don't mind using dried beans, it just requires a little more planning ahead. You've got a point about the cost, though. Actually, I like your idea of cooking more than you need and freezing some. I did that back when I cooked cranberry beans for your salad. Hope you do try the soup!

pinkcocoa said...

Hi Cath
Your soup looks delicious and nutritious! Never tried cooking with white beans before and I have also never seen Dinosaur kale before! or maybe that I just never noticed it. How else would you cook it?

Cathy said...

Hi Pinkcocoa! Thanks very much! Actually, I've only ever used dinosaur kale in this soup. I was reading up on it today and I think the dinosaur kale is more tender than regular kale and is milder in flavor. I have Lynne Rossetto Kasper's "The Italian Country Table" and she has a recipe for "Melting Tuscan Kale" in which Tuscan (or dinosaur) kale is sauteed with onion and garlic until it is silky tender. She suggests Swiss chard as a substitute but says regular kale can be used if it is parboiled for one or two minutes.