With Spring not to far away though really, we have to admit that it is not here soon enough, it always makes me think of quick soups for the pleasantly cool evenings and whatever is in season to highlight. This is great in theory for when Spring arrives. But what doesn’t have to wait for any season to be highlighted in a recipe, beans.
As I was bean adverse while growing up in Southern California (thankfully I changed gears after settling in down in the south), I’ve become aggressive with my experimenting different bean recipes as my exposure to them has grown. Fava, green, black, kidney, I’m infatuated with them all. Which led me to incorporate beans into a quick, relatively healthy soup to share.
Though soup was what I leapt to first when ushering in a bean recipe to the fire service, I implore you to consider adding beans to salads as well, either cold or warm. A great source of protein, fiber, carbs, vitamins (vitamin B especially!), minerals, and needed lipids (polyunsaturated fat!), they’re often considered one of the healthiest foods available.
A few after the fire critiques: White butter beans from Italy are not an everyday grocery item, I know. Hence, white kidney beans and/or cannellini beans are very complimentary substitutes and are readily available. Feel free to skip pancetta all together to make it vegetarian or add some shredded roast chicken (a favorite at the firehouse). Spinach can be replaced with any dark leafy green, just adjust the cook time to accommodate.
Feeds 4-6 comfortably.
Pancetta or Pork Belly (6-8 ounces, cubed)
White Butter/Cannellini/Kidney Beans (2 cans, well rinsed)
Chicken Stock (8 cups)
Spinach (2 cups)
Onion (large, diced)
Carrots (2 large, diced)
Garlic (3 cloves, smashed)
Tomato Paste (2 Tbs.)
Dried Oregano (1 Tbs.)
Smoked Paprika (2 tsp.)
EVOO (1 Tbs.)
S&P too taste
Place the Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the EVOO and heat for 30 seconds. Add the smashed garlic and pancetta and render till browned, 5-8 minutes. Remove and drain in separate bowl lined with paper towel. Carefully remove the smashed garlic pieces. Remove all but 1 Tbs. of the leftover pancetta grease. Add the carrots and onion, season with salt, and cook to soften, 5 minutes. Add the dried oregano and smoked paprika, mix to combine, and continue to cook for an additional 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste, mix to combines and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
Pour in the chicken stock and then bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, add the beans, spinach, and pancetta and cook for 10-15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately. Indulge!