Recipe: Cannellini bean and pancetta soup with Swiss chard
- 1 cup dried cannellini beans, picked over, broken beans discarded, or two 14-oz cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary + 1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 oz thick-cut hot pancetta, chopped into 1⁄4-inch dice
- 1 cup diced leek, white and light green part only
- 1 cup diced carrot (about 2 carrots)
- 2 tsp chopped garlic
- 6 cups sodium-reduced chicken broth
- 1⁄2 bunch Swiss chard, stems removed, cut into chiffonade (about 3 cups)
- Grated Romano cheese for garnish
1 If using dried cannellini beans, cover beans with 2 inches of cold water in a large bowl and soak for 12 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse.
2 Place the beans in a medium pot with the sprig of rosemary and 1 bay leaf; cover with 2 inches of water. Set over medium heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and gently simmer until the beans are tender, about 30 to 35 minutes.
3 Remove the bay leaf and rosemary; drain the beans and set aside. Beans can be cooked one day in advance, cooled and refrigerated in their cooking liquid until needed.
4 Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook until fat has rendered and the pancetta is golden brown. Remove the pancetta with a slotted spoon and set aside.
5 Add the leek, carrots, garlic and chopped rosemary to pancetta oil and cook over medium heat until the vegetables start to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining bay leaf and the chicken broth, scraping any flavourful browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the drained beans and simmer for 15 minutes, until the vegetables are soft.
6 Return the pancetta to the pot, add the Swiss chard and cook for 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaf.
7 Serve in warmed soup bowls and garnish with Romano cheese.
Serves 4 to 6