This soup is ‘peasant’ food in the best possible way; simple, seasonal ingredients cooked slowly, each step of the process coaxing out more flavour. Finish with a good drizzle of punchy new-season olive oil.
¼ cup olive oil (for this recipe I used green olio nuovo)
1 large brown onion, peeled and diced
2 carrots, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
2 tablespoon rosemary leaves, finely chopped
2 tablespoon thyme leaves
400g piece of speck (or pancetta), skin and fat trimmed and cut into 2cm lardons
1 parsnip, peeled and cut into cubes
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into cubes
1 piece parmesan or pecorino cheese
1 litre chicken stock (or vegetable)
1½ cups dried borlotti beans, soaked and cooked until tender
1 good bunch kale
1. Pour most of the olive oil into a large, heavy-based saucepan on medium heat. Add the onion, carrots and celery and cook for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables are soft and aromatic.
2. Add the herbs and speck, increase heat a little and cook for another 15 minutes, stirring often. You want everything to really take on a lovely almost caramelised look and texture. Add remaining vegetables. Cut off the rind of your piece of parmesan and add this to the pot, too. Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring so everything is really well mixed together. We are building layers of flavour here and the ‘almost caramelised’ vegetables, and the speck sticking to the bottom of the pan a bit before being scooped up and stirred around with everything else is a big part of that. And the parmesan rind plays her role beautifully, too!
3. Add the stock and beans, top up with a cup of water and cook at a gentle simmer for about 45 minutes. Right before serving, shred the kale into the soup (leaving out the stems – which our chooks love!). Divide between bowls, top with lots of freshly grated parmesan cheese and drizzle with remaining olive oil. I like to finish mine with lots of freshly ground black pepper and chilli flakes.
This recipe was first published in Issue 118. More recently, Issue 125, has a selection of recipes from her newest cookbook, In Good Company. Sophie also has a cookbook out called A Basket by the Door filled with tasty treats to cook for your family and friends, including this wintery soup.
By: Sophie Hansen
First published: May 2021