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Deep Winter Minestra Beans and Greens Soup

Serves 4

Originally aired

INGREDIENTS
  • 2 tablespoons EVOO Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/3 pound thick-cut speck (smoked pancetta) or butcher thick-cut bacon, diced 1/8 inch
  • 3/4 pound cremini or mixed wild mushrooms (or a mix of wood ear and cremini), 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 (For a more traditional flavor of the traditional escarole and bean soup, use chicken -- I prefer beef or mushroom stock with the darker greens and the addition of meaty mushrooms.)
  • 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
PREPARATION

Heat a soup pot over medium to medium-high heat. Add EVOO, a couple of turns of the pan. Add speck or bacon and crisp, 2-3 minutes. Add mushrooms and brown, 6-7 minutes. Add onions and garlic, and cook 5-6 minutes more to soften.

Wilt greens into pot and season with a little salt, lots of pepper and some nutmeg. Add beans, stock and water to pot and bring up to a boil. Add pasta, reduce heat to low, rolling boil and cook until pasta is al dente. Check seasoning then serve in shallow bowls with some grated Pecorino on top and crusty bread alongside for mopping.

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