- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 ounces pancetta or bacon, finely chopped (about ½ cup)
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 medium carrots, chopped
- 2 celery stalks with leaves, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 8 cups low-salt beef stock
- 1 small Delicata squash, cut into ½-inch chunks (about 1½ cups)
- 2 cups (about 6 ounces) packed finely chopped kale leaves or cabbage
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon ground dried fennel
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary or ¼ cup lightly packed chopped fresh
- flat-leaf parsley
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 Parmesan cheese rind (about 2 by 4 inches), optional
- 1 cup cooked white beans, such as cannellini or navy beans or 1 (14-ounce) can white beans, drained and rinsed
- ½ cup acini de pepe or other tiny dried pasta
- Freshly grated Parmesan, for serving
- Heat the olive oil in a stockpot over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook to render some of the fat. When it is sizzling and starting to crisp, add the onion, carrots, celery and garlic.
- Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion turns translucent, about 6 minutes. Add 2 cups of water, the stock, squash, kale, salt, fennel, pepper, rosemary and bay leaf. Drop in the Parmesan rind, if using. Bring the liquid to a boil and reduce the heat to low. Simmer the soup partially covered for 30 minutes. Taste for salt and pepper and discard the bay leaf and Parmesan rind, if using.
- Add the beans and the pasta and simmer until the pasta is al dente, about 9 minutes more. Serve the soup in wide bowls with the Parmesan liberally sprinkled on top.
- *Note: When making this well in advance of serving time or for freezing, leave out the pasta until you reheat the soup since it will absorb most of the precious soup broth.
- Reprinted with permission from Pure Beef © 2012 Lynne Curry.