a hearty soup for a snowy day

vermont cranberry beans

vermont cranberry beans

Cranberry Bean Vegetable Soup with Bacon and Pasta
Serves 8 to 10

This thick and rich soup is based on an Italian Pasta Fagioli. I used a host of Everblossom produce, like garlic, onions, chili pepper, rosemary, cranberry beans, Kale and Swiss chard. I also try to always use simple ingredients you can find in small towns like East Berlin, PA! In my experience, cooking with Elaine’s beans requires less time soaking and cooking than is typical. Since they’ve been recently harvested they have more moisture than store-bought.

This made eight hearty servings for me. I served it with warm sourdough bread in shallow bowls and there was not a drop left over.

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
5 cloves garlic, smashed
2 small onions, roughly chopped
1 dried Everblossom red chili pepper, chopped fine, seeds removed (1/2 teaspoon)
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 4-ounce piece Canadian bacon, diced
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes (I use organic Fire Roasted)
Kosher salt
2 cups dried cranberry beans, soaked overnight (6 to 8 hours), or a white bean
2 quarts tomato juice (or water is okay too)
2 large bay leaves
1 piece parmesan cheese rind, plus 1 cup grated parmesan, and more for topping
1 cup small pasta, such as shells
1 bunch kale, stems and ribs discarded, leaves chopped; or a mix of Kale and Swiss chard
Freshly ground pepper

Heat 6 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic, onion, red pepper, rosemary and Canadian bacon, and cook 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and cook 2 more minutes; season with salt. Add the beans, 2 quarts tomato juice, the bay leaves and parmesan rind. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until the beans are tender, 60 to 90 minutes. Add 30 minutes if the beans aren’t soft enough.

Uncover the pot and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Add the kale and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 5 to 6 more minutes. (The soup should be thick and creamy; thin with water, if necessary.)

Remove the bay leaves and parmesan rind. Add the grated parmesan and salt and pepper to taste. Top with more olive oil and parmesan as desired.

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