There are many ways to make a delicious soup. The success of a soup is in the depth of flavors. I prefer recipes that have fewer ingredients, but this soup is worth the effort. The first layer of flavor is the pancetta, cured and salted pork belly. Olive oil is a good substitute for those who do not want to use pancetta. Another layer of flavor is the aromatics, vegetables used as a base flavor including (but not limited to) celery, carrots, onions and fresh herbs. Adding the rind from a block of parmesan cheese adds a tremendous amount of richness to a soup, without the addition of fat. The beans, tomato paste, and kale are all a bonus. Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper are a must, but gradually season the soup throughout the cooking process. Taste it, then taste it again and adjust the seasoning. Keep in mind that both the pancetta and cheese rind add salt. A splash of sherry vinegar for the finish helps balance all the flavors. The last layer of flavor comes from a pistou, which is a combination of garlic, basil parmesan cheese, lemon zest and olive oil, it’s like a pesto sauce, but without the pine nuts.
-3 sprigs oregano
-3 sprigs rosemary
-2 bay leaves
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-4 ounces pancetta (Italian bacon), chopped (optional)
-1 onion, chopped
-1 leek, white and pale-green parts only, thinly sliced
-2 carrots, peeled, chopped
-2 celery stalks, chopped
-4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
-½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
-2 tablespoons tomato paste
-1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, drained
-1 Parmesan rind (about 2 ounces; optional)
-2 15-oz. cans, rinsed
-Freshly ground black pepper
-12 ounces baby Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed, cut into ½” pieces
-½ bunch Tuscan kale, ribs and stems removed, leaves torn into 1” pieces
-2 garlic cloves
-1 cup fresh basil leaves
-½ cup olive oil
-2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
-1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Soup: Tie oregano, rosemary, and bay leaves together with kitchen twine.
Heat the oil in a large heavy pot over medium. Add pancetta, if using, and cook, stirring often, until browned around the edges, about 5 minutes. Add onion, leeks, carrots, celery, garlic, and red pepper flakes; season with salt. Cook, stirring often, until onion is translucent and carrots are tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring to coat, until slightly darkened, about 3 minutes.
Add tomatoes, crushing with your hands as you go, then add the herb bundle, Parmesan rind, if using, and 6 cups of water. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Add potatoes, reduce heat, and simmer until potatoes are tender and flavors have melded, 20 to 25 minutes. Add kale and beans, and cook until kale is tender, about 5 minutes. Discard Parmesan rind and herb bundle.
Pistou: Pulse garlic and basil in a food processor until finely chopped. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in olive oil, Parmesan, and lemon zest; season with salt. Serve the soup topped with the pistou.
Source: Bon Appetit