Mediterranean Bean Soup with Spicy Greens
This easy, warming soup can easily be made vegan with the substitution of vegetable stock.
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- 1/2 cups dried cannellini or borlotti beans, soaked overnight
- 6 cups chicken stock
- 6 fresh ripe plum tomatoes (or use 6 canned whole tomatoes), coarsely chopped
- 1 or 2 bay leaves
- 1 celery stalk, including green tops, diced
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1 cup dry white wine
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Pinch of chili pepper
- 1 1/2 - 2 pounds greens, such as mustard greens, chard or kale (if necessary, remove and discard tough center ribs), chopped
- 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil
- 2 medium fennel bulbs, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons chopped mixed fresh herbs, such as rosemary, thyme, flat-leaf parsley
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- Drain the soaked beans and place in a pan with 8 cups of fresh water. Bring slowly to a simmer, cover, and cook gently until the beans are tender but not falling apart—40 to 45 minutes. Check the beans from time to time and add boiling water if necessary to keep them always covered with water to a depth of at least 1/2 inch.
- Meanwhile, combine the stock with the tomatoes, bay leaf, celery, onion and wine. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook gently 40 minutes. Strain the stock, pressing the solids in the colander to extract the flavor. Discard the remaining solids and return the stock to the pan over medium-low heat.
- The greens should be in bite-sized pieces. Rinse them well and add to the simmering stock, cooking the greens just until they are wilted–5 to 10 minutes, depending on how coarse the greens are. (Delicate mustard greens will cook quickly, kale may take as much as 10 minutes.)
- Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a saute pan and set over medium heat. Stir in the fennel and cook, stirring, until the dice just start to brown. Add the garlic and herbs, with the remaining olive oil and ½ cup of bean liquid, and cook gently until the garlic is soft. Scrape the contents of the skillet into the stock with the greens, then use a slotted spoon to extract the beans and add to the soup.
- Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning.
Serve with an extra dollop of olive oil on the top of each serving. For a bright garnish at the end, add some strips of sweet red pepper sliced from peppers you’ve roasted yourself or from a jar of high-quality roasted red peppers.
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