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Winter Minestrone with Tuscan Kale Pesto

  • SERVINGS: 8-10
  • MAKE-AHEAD

Johanne Killeen and George Germon use a prosciutto bone, a traditional Italian staple, for their heartyvegetable soup at Al Forno in Providence, Rhode Island. A Tuscan cook would advise you to save it in your freezer to use again for your next minestrone. If you can't find a prosciutto bone, substitute 1 pound of smoked ham hocks. Shred the meat from the ham hocks and add to the soup before serving.

  1. 1/2 pound dried cranberry or pinto beans (1 1/3 cups), rinsed and picked over
  2. 1 prosciutto bone
  3. 1/4 cup olive oil
  4. 1 large fennel bulb—trimmed, cored and cut into 1/3-inch dice
  5. 2 large onions, cut into 1/3-inch dice
  6. 4 medium celery ribs, cut into 1/3-inch dice
  7. 2 medium leeks, white and tender green, quartered lengthwise and sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
  8. 2 medium carrots, cut into 1/3-inch dice
  9. Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  10. 1 1/4 pounds Savoy cabbage, finely shredded
  11. 1 bay leaf
  12. Crushed red pepper
  13. 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
  14. 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
  15. 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 1/2 ounces)
  16. Tuscan Kale Pesto
  1. In a bowl, cover the beans with water and let soak overnight. Alternatively, in a saucepan, cover the beans with water and bring to a boil over moderate heat. Remove from the heat and let soak, covered, for 1 hour.
  2. Drain and rinse the beans. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, combine the beans and the prosciutto bone with 10 cups of water. Bring to a boil over moderately high heat, then reduce the heat to moderately low and simmer until the beans are tender but still intact, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the fennel, onions, celery, leeks and carrots and season with kosher salt and black pepper. Cook over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are softened, 15 to 20 minutes. Add the cabbage, bay leaf and 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the sautéed vegetables to the beans with the thyme and rosemary. If necessary, add more water to cover the vegetables. Bring to a boil over moderately high heat, then reduce the heat and simmer until the cabbage is tender, about 30 minutes. Season with salt, black pepper and crushed red pepper. Discard the prosciutto bone. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve with the Parmesan and Tuscan Kale Pesto.
Make Ahead The soup can be refrigerated fro 2 days. Rewarm before serving.