Chestnut and Kale Soup

Cavolo nero is a member of the kale family. Between farm stands, specialty produce markets, and natural food stores it is available year-round. To find it, be aware of its many aliases: Tuscan kale, black cabbage, lacinato, and dinosaur kale. Its rich, sweet, almost meaty flavor will have you hooked from the first bite.

Chestnut and Kale Soup


Quantity Ingredients
1/2 lb dried white beans such as cannellini, Great Northern, or navy (about 1 1/4 cups), picked over and rinsed
1/4 lb thinly sliced pancetta, chopped
1 large onion
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 (14-oz) can whole tomatoes in juice, drained, reserving juice, and chopped
3 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
1 piece Parmigiano-Reggiano rind
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 lb kale, stems and center ribs discarded and leaves torn into bite-size pieces
2 tsp fresh chopped thyme


1. Drain beans and rinse well. Set aside. 2. In a deep saucepan or Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Cook pancetta and onion, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic for the last 3 minutes of cooking so it won't burn. 3. Add tomatoes with juice, beans, broth, water, cheese rind, salt and pepper and simmer, uncovered, for about 15 minutes. Discard cheese rind and stir in chestnuts. 4. Carefully transfer 2 cups of soup to a blender and purée until smooth, then return to pot. Stir in kale and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until leaves are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in thyme. 5. Serve immediately with grated Parmesan for sprinkling or top with Parmesan shavings, olive oil, pepper, fresh thyme sprigs and whole chestnuts. 6. Soup can be made 3 days ahead and cooled completely, uncovered, then chilled, covered. Reheat, thinning with water as necessary. Makes 6 servings.