Thursday, January 27, 2011

Ribolitta Italian Bean Soup with Mascarpone

I’ll admit, I was a late bloomer when it came to dark leafy greens. Sure I experimented with spinach but I kept my distance from kale and chard until I tried this soup in college. That’s when I fell in love with their mellow flavors and soft texture. Later I began putting dark greens into smoothies--who really needs a green powder when you could just put the whole leaf in?--and really began to appreciate the their versatility. So if you’re timid in the produce market and scuttle by these dark beauties, stop, stare and give ‘em a try! This exquisite soup is a safe place to start. 

Serves 4-6 

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
3 medium carrots, sliced 1/8 inch
½ yellow onion, diced finely
1 tablespoons garlic, minced
8-10 sprigs of thyme, leaves only
Pinch of red chili flake
3 cups kale, chopped
3 cups Swiss chard, chopped
½ teaspoon brown sugar
½ teaspoon sea salt 
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
32 ounces chicken broth (not bouillon cubes)
2, 15-ounce cans of cannellini beans
6 ounces mascarpone cheese for serving
Crusty Italian baguette

Heat oil and butter in a medium stock pot. Sauté carrots, onion, garlic, thyme leaves and chili flake over medium heat until onion is golden, about 5 minutes. Add the following six ingredients through chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 45 minutes until all of the vegetables are tender. Rinse and drain the beans. Puree about one third of the beans in a food processor. Add the beans and bean puree to the soup and heat for another five minutes

Serve in wide soup bowls. Settle a generous scoop of the mascarpone in the center of the soup. Serve with crusty bread. 

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