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Rach shares one of her favorite cold-weather Italian soups, minestra with beans, kale, escarole + garlic-Parm croutons. 

"It is the souped-up season of soup, so we're making another 'souper' supper tonight," says Rach. (Can you say that ten times fast?!) This is one of her faves: a minestra with two types of greens—kale and escarole—that you can make with or without pancetta. If you skip the meat and use vegetable stock, she says, it can be vegetarian and still have great flavor. 

For more soups perfect for this time of year, check out Rach's Lentil Soup and Onion Soup Gratinee.  


For the Beans:
  • Cook 1 ½ cups white beans with bay and onion in salted water until tender, 40 minutes, and drain or use two 15-ounce cans cooked white beans
For the Soup:
  • ¼ cup EVOO, plus for croutons and to finish
  • ¼ pound meaty pancetta or guanciale, minced (optional for vegetarian preparation)
  • 1 small bulb of fennel, trimmed, cored and finely chopped
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • Salt
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • ½ cup white wine or white vermouth
  • 1 bunch lacinato or flat kale, stemmed and chopped or shredded
  • 1 escarole, chopped or shredded
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 quarts chicken bone broth or vegetable stock
  • 1 chunk Parm rind
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Minced white onion, to serve
For the Croutons:
  • 3 tablespoons EVOO
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • About 5 cups torn peasant or Italian bread, small bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup grated Parm


Serves: 4


Preheat oven to 375°F. 

For the soup, heat EVOO, about 4 turns of pan, in large Dutch oven over medium heat, add pancetta or guanciale (if using) and render 2 minutes. Add fennel and onion, season with salt, then sweat a few minutes. Add garlic, red pepper and zest, stir a minute, add wine and let it absorb. Wilt in greens, season with salt and add the beans, nutmeg, stock or broth, 2 cups water and rind. Simmer at low-rolling boil 20 to 30 minutes, add lemon juice and adjust seasoning. 

Rachael Ray 5-Quart Cast Iron Casserole

Rachael Ray 5-Quart Cast Iron Casserole

Rachael Ray

Meanwhile, make the croutons. In a skillet, heat EVOO and butter with crushed garlic, swirl a minute, then toss with bread. Transfer to foil- and parchment-lined baking sheet, cover with cheese and bake until brown and crisp. 

Serve soup in shallow bowls with croutons, raw minced onions and more EVOO and red pepper to pass.