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Tuscan Peasant Soup with Rosemary & Pancetta

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Serves six to eight.

Yields 3-1/2 qts.

  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 83

  • 5 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1-1/4 cups small-diced pancetta (about 6 oz. or 6 thick slices)
  • 4 cups large-diced Savoy cabbage (about ½ small head)
  • 2 cups medium-diced onion (10 to 12 oz. or 2 small)
  • 1-1/2 cups medium-diced carrot (about 4 medium carrots)
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt; more as needed
  • 2 Tbs. minced garlic
  • 1 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 7 cups homemade or low-salt canned chicken broth
  • 2 15-1/2-oz. cans small white beans, rinsed and drained (about 2-1/2 cups, drained)
  • 1 to 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs, toasted
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Heat 2 Tbs. of the olive oil in a 4- to 5-qt. Dutch oven over medium heat. When hot, add the pancetta and cook, stirring frequently, until quite shrunken, golden brown, and crisp (the oil will also be golden brown), about 6 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and with a slotted spoon or strainer carefully transfer the pancetta to a paper-towel-lined plate. Pour off and discard all but 2 Tbs. of the fat from the pan.

Return the pot to medium-high heat and add the chopped cabbage. Cook the cabbage, stirring occasionally, until limp and browned around the edges, about 3 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat again and transfer the cabbage to another plate.

Put the pot back over medium heat and add 2 Tbs. more of the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the onions, carrots, and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened and the vegetables are browned around the edges and beginning to stick to the bottom of the pan, 8 to 9 minutes. Add the last 1 Tbs. of olive oil, the garlic, 1 Tbs. of the fresh rosemary, and the ground coriander and cook, stirring, until the garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, stir together, and cook the mixture 2 to 3 more minutes.

Return the cabbage to the pan and add the chicken broth. Stir well, bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes to infuse the broth with the flavor of the vegetables. Add the beans, bring back to a simmer, and cook for a minute or two. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the remaining 1 tsp. fresh rosemary, and let rest a few minutes.

Taste the soup and add lemon juice to brighten it—you’ll want at least 1 tsp. Season with more salt if necessary and a few grinds of fresh pepper. Serve the soup hot, garnished with the reserved pancetta crisps, the toasted breadcrumbs, and the grated Parmigiano.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : based on eight servings; Calories (kcal): 370; Fat (g): fat g 18; Fat Calories (kcal): 160; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 4.5; Protein (g): protein g 17; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 10; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 37; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 1010; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 20; Fiber (g): fiber g 8;

Photo: Scott Phillips

Good, not great. Followed recipe with 2 small changes - I used the liquid from the tomatoes (about 1C)to make part of the 7C of broth and I did not brown the pancetta in oil - pancetta is plenty fatty on its own. Those changes surely did not negatively affect the outcome. The recipe is quite time consuming (I always forget how time consuming FC recipes are). The soup was quite good, but seemed to lack a certain depth of flavor - not sure why since it has plenty of ingredients to impart savory flavor. Cabbage flavor seemed quite pronounced - will probably do a finer chop on it if I make it again. I don't mind the time it takes - I like chopping, but if I am going to invest the time, I want a stellar result. So many tasty savory winter soups out there that I may just keep looking for a perfect one.

I've made this soup many a time. It is delicious and relatively easy.

Excellent outcome. Followed recipe as written. Perfect hearty soup for a cold and windy night. It hit the spot and is very filling.

Loved it. Of course, I had to make small changes. I reduced pancetta and oil. I also reduced garlic, and rosemary. I left out the coriander because I didn't have any in my pantry. I also added some shredded chicken and some spinach leaves at end. I was making this for someone who doesn't eat cabbage if they can identify it, so the spinach was a disguise. It was soooo yummy.

Yummy soup with a nice complex flavor; makes for great comfort food on a rainy day. I would give it 5 stars but it's a bit of work and makes a lot of dirty dishes along the way. Even so, I will make it again.

A really rich and flavorful soup. This one is definitely a keeper. I substituted bacon for the pancetta (it's hard to get where I live) and used just one cup instead of 1 1/4. Will certainly make this soup again!

This is a lovely soup. I substituted Godshall's Turkey Bacon for the Pancetta (because I had it in stock) and dried Rosemary (again, had it in stock). I chose to use Cannellini beans. It is very fast to cook, and was very satisfying. I will definitely make this again! Thank you!

Great soup!

This soup is really flavorful and I realized later that I completely forgot to add the cheese and breadcrumbs. I also substituted turkey bacon and it added a rich flavor to the soup. I added an additional can of chick peas, as 2 cans of white beans didn't seem like quite enough.

This is now my favorite soup in my repertoire.

This soup is awesome exactly as is. It is one of my family's favorites, and has become a favorite of friends of mine, too. An absolute must make dish for cool autumn or winter nights.

This soup is one of my family's absolute favorites. To make it more calorie friendly, I cut way back on the oil and reduce the amount of pancetta and parmesan cheese by one third. I also substitute homemade croutons for bread crumbs. There is a lot of prep work involved so it is time consuming to make, but it's worth it!

Great soup! Ingredients perfectly balanced- a nice variation from all we try to do with beans. I'm not a fan of canned beans so used dried Coco beans - otherwise, perfect as is.

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