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Two-Bean Minestrone with Pancetta and Parmesan

Yield 8


  • 1/2 cup dried chickpeas (about 4 ounces), soaked overnight and drained
  • 1 quart water
  • 1/2 cup dried borlotti or pinto beans (about 3 ounces), soaked overnight and drained
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 ounces pancetta, finely chopped
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium leek, white and tender green parts, coarsely chopped
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 large celery ribs, finely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, finely chopped
  • 8 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium broth
  • 4 thyme sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 large sage sprigs
  • One 3-ounce piece of Parmesan rind
  • 1/2 pound Savoy cabbage, coarsely chopped (4 cups)
  • 1/2 pound kale, large stems discarded, leaves finely chopped (5 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups canned peeled Italian tomatoes, coarsely chopped, juices reserved
  • 1/2 pound green beans, cut into 1-inch lengths
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Hot sauce, for serving (optional)

How to Make It

  1. In a medium saucepan, cover the chickpeas with the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the borlotti beans, cover and continue to simmer until the beans are tender, about 1 hour. Remove from the heat and set the beans aside.

  2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large enameled cast-iron casserole. Add the pancetta and cook over low heat until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the onion, leek, garlic, celery and carrots and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the stock, thyme, bay leaves, sage and Parmesan rind and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the cabbage, kale, tomatoes and their juices and the cooked beans and their liquid. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Add the green beans, cover and continue to simmer for 1 hour. Discard the thyme sprigs, bay leaves, sage and Parmesan rind. Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat. Serve in bowls. Pass the hot sauce.

  3. Make Ahead: The minestrone can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.

  4. Serve With: Lightly buttered toasts rubbed with garlic and sprinkled with Parmesan. Put a cheese toast in each soup bowl and ladle the hot soup on top.

  5. Wine Recommendation: A full-flavored Sangiovese from Montalcino with good fruit and not too much tannin will tie together the ingredients in this hearty soup. The 1998 Altesino Rosso di Montalcino or the 1998 Argiano Rosso di Montalcino would be ideal.