October 14, 2011

Beans and Greens

I have a confession to make and some of you may be a little surprised.  This soup recipe is old school Rachael Ray.  Back before she had a talk show and a hundred million cookbooks, before orange cookware became synonymous with her name.  Before even the suggested serving sizes of her recipes downright frightened me (unless I misread the recipe source and this soup was actually intended for 2?).  She has some hidden gems, recipes that I've definitely made more than once, so I guess what I'm saying is: don't judge a book by it's cover.

This is just a simple beans and greens kind of soup.  It could have been anyone's recipe really, but it just happens to come from Rachael Ray.  This is he kind of soup you crave on drizzly grey days, or when you're looking for comfort without tons of effort.  It's not the most handsome of soups, but with darkness falling earlier and earlier its muted tones are much more appropriate to autumn's palate.

Escarole is a fun green.  A little less bitter than other members of the endive family, it's wild and tangled leaves giving it the look of green leaf's less demure sibling.  I like it best with a little heat put to.  It tames the bitter and makes it more approachable.  In this soup, the wilted and stewed escarole becomes silky and its bright green color fades to something more homely.  The beans add body and thicken the savory chicken stock as they simmer away.  Pancetta is in there too, playing the much important salty role.  A tiny mountain of Parmigiano Reggiano to top it all off  and I've got my dinner all planned out for the next few days.

recipe from Rachael Ray, 30 Minute Meals

This soup is dead simple and simply perfect.  It should go without saying that when a recipe is as simple as this, seek out the best ingredients.  Homemade chicken stock and super fresh escarole from the market will make all the difference here.  I suspect cooking up your own beans instead of using canned would be even more wonderful, but it's an extra step I haven't yet taken.  I like a generous dusting of  the real-deal fresh parmesan cheese on mine and bread is a must to swipe up the last bits from the bowl.

4-6 servings

4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 oz. pancetta, diced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 large bunch escarole, chopped
2 (14-ounce) cans, cannellini beans, drained
4 cups chicken stock
A couple pinches ground nutmeg
kosher salt
Shaved Parmigiano Reggiano, for topping

In a deep, large, heavy pot over moderate heat, saute garlic and pancetta in extra-virgin olive oil for 3 minutes. Add onions and cook a few minutes longer until the pancetta begins to brown.

Add the greens and wilt slightly, just so that can fit in the pot.  Add drained beans, broth, and nutmeg. Cook over moderate to medium-high heat for 12 minutes, or until greens are no longer bitter.  Season with salt and don't be shy here, salt until the flavors pop.  Serve with shaved cheese and perhaps some crusty bread.

No comments:

Post a Comment