Tuscan Bean Soup: Serves 8
- 1 -14-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 - 14-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 pound diced pancetta
- 2 cups diced yellow onions
- 1 cup diced celery
- 1 cup diced carrots
- 4 cloves garlic, sliced
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 - 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 2 quarts chicken stock, plus extra water if needed
- 1 sprig of fresh oregano
- 2 heads of kale, stems removed and cut into bite size pieces
- Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated, for serving
1. In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta, cooking until slightly crispy. Sauté the onion, celery, and garlic for 3 to 4 minutes. Pour in one cup of chicken stock and let it simmer for about 5-10 minutes. This will allow for the seasonings from the pancetta and the onions, celery and garlic to become more concentrated.
2. Once the soup turns to a dark yellow/brown color, add the kidney beans, cannellini beans, carrots, tomatoes, oregano and the rest of the chicken stock. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, and then add the kale. Continue cooking for about an hour.
Now, ya see, I’ve obviously never made ravioli before and from watching chefs make it on TV, it seemed to be a pretty simple task to accomplish. I do not have a hand cranked pasta machine so I thought rolling it out the old fashioned way would be just as good. Let me be the first to admit how much I cursed while making this dish.
I cut the dough into four pieces, as the recipe stated, and got to work. When I first started working with the dough, I thought I had done something wrong. It was a little crumbly and didn’t look like it was going to roll out nicely. Showing it some tough love, I started kneading, and kneading, and kneading. The oil and warmth of my hands aided in combining the dough and it slowly began to form a malleable consistency. I could see it was ready to be rolled out.
Smacking the oval of dough with my rolling pin a few times to begin, I start the ever so challenging rolling of the dough. Dominca states as a tip in her recipe that she knows the dough is ready when you can hold it up and see a shadow of your hand behind it. Good luck getting to that point with a rolling pin.
I thought of the old Italian woman and their strong arms as I pushed the dough. I thought of my grandmother in the kitchen for hours making pierogies, which I heard are just as challenging to make. I thought of me, without my pasta machine, determined to succeed in my ravioli making quest. I pressed on and started to enjoy the tedious process.
Finally, I see the shadow behind the dough and break out my cookie cutter. I wanted to get the most out of the dough considering it was difficult to make so I decided to use a 2 ½ inch cookie cutter to make the raviolis. My rounds are cut and I’m ready to stuff them with my mushroom ricotta recipe.