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Deep Winter Minestra - Beans and Greens Soup

Deep Winter Minestra - Beans and Greens Soup


  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

  • 1/3 pound thick-cut speck (smoked pancetta) or butcher thick-cut bacon, diced 1/8-inch

  • 3/4 pound crimini or mixed wild mushrooms (or a mix of wood ear and crimini mushrooms), thinly sliced

  • 1 medium onion, halved across and thinly sliced

  • 4 large cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated

  • 2 small bundles or 1 large bundle (about a pound) lacinato or Tuscan black kale, stemmed and very thinly sliced

  • Salt and pepper

  • Freshly grated nutmeg (about 1/4 teaspoon)

  • 1 can cannellini beans

  • 1 quart chicken, beef or mushroom stock

  • 2 cups water

  • 1 cup dried pasta, such as penne rigate, mezze rigatoni or whole wheat short-cut pasta

  • 1 tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar or balsamic drizzle

  • Pecorino cheese, for grating

  • Crusty bread, for mopping


Heat a soup pot over medium to medium-high heat. Add the EVOO, a couple of turns of the pan. Add the speck or bacon and crisp, 2-3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and brown, 6-7 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and cook 5-6 minutes more to soften.

Wilt the greens into the pot and season with a little salt, lots of pepper and some nutmeg. Add the beans, stock and water to the pot and bring up to a boil. Add the pasta, reduce the heat to a low, rolling boil and cook until the pasta is al dente. Check the seasoning, then serve in shallow bowls with some grated Pecorino on top and crusty bread alongside, for mopping.