Saturday, January 9, 2010

White Bean, Pork & Vegetable Soup

I brown a pancetta-wrapped pork tenderloin in a skillet, then braise until cooked, slice and add to the finished soup right before serving for a hearty one-dish meal.

A simply dressed salad of mixed greens, with hot artisanal bread and a full-bodied red wine makes for a perfect mid-winter dinner.

1/4 pound salt pork, rind discarded and the meat cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 cups finely chopped onion
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 bay leaf
1 T dried rosemary, crumbled
4 ribs of celery, cut crosswise into 1/4-inches slices (about 2 cups)
4 large carrots, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices (about 2 cups)
1 pound turnips, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 pound small red potatoes
1 pound dried white beans such as Great Northern, soaked in enough cold water to cover them by 2 inches overnight or quick-soaked (procedure follows) and drained
4 cups chicken broth plus, if desired, additional for thinning the soup
6 cups packed fresh spinach leaves, washed well, spun dry, and shredded coarse
1 cup dry white wine
freshly grated Parmesan to taste

Preparing the soup:
In a heavy kettle cook the salt pork over moderately low heat, stirring, until it is crisp. Transfer the cracklings with a slotted spoon to paper towels, and reserve them.

In the fat remaining in the kettle cook the onion, the garlic, the bay leaf, and the rosemary, stirring, until the onion is softened. Add the celery, the carrots, the turnips, the potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces, the beans, 4 cups of the broth, and 6 cups water. Simmer the mixture, covered, stirring occasionally, for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the beans are tender.

Stir in the spinach and simmer until it is cooked. Stir in the wine, additional broth or water to thin the soup to the desired consistency. Salt and pepper to taste. Discard the bay leaf, simmer the soup, stirring, for 5 minutes, and serve it sprinkled with freshly grated Parmesan. Sprinkle cracklings over each serving.

To Quick Soak dried beans:
In a colander rinse the beans under cold water and discard any discolored ones. In a kettle combine the beans with enough cold water to cover them by 2 inches, bring the water to a boil, and boil the beans for 2 minutes. Remove the kettle from the heat and let the beans soak, covered, for 1 hour.


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