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Cannellini Bean Soup – – from dried beans to finish

Finished Cannellini Bean Soup garnished with Italian parsley, crispy pancetta, and pecorino Romano cheese



1 medium lemon, scrubbed

3 oz. pancetta cut into 1/4-inch cubes

2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary

1 large clove garlic, minced

1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

1 pound bag brined cannellini beans (or Two 15-1/2-oz. cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained)

3/4 cup lower-salt chicken broth

2 roasted red peppers, cut into small dice (jarred is fine, too)

Italian flat leaf parsley leaves (trimmed from stems) and chopped finely for garnish

Pecorino Romano cheese, finely grated to finish

Freshly ground black pepper

Kosher salt

Note: I always save the rinds from my good hard cheeses such as Parmigiano Regianno in a zip bag inside the freezer. Take a piece of one of the rinds and place it into your soup pot while it bubbles away. It provides a texture and flavor component that cannot be achieved in any other way. Save those rinds!



To “brine” the beans

  1. Pour dried beans out on a baking sheet and look through to make sure there are only beans. Sometimes small pebbles make their way into the bagging.
  2. Place beans into a large bowl with 4 quarts of cool water and mix in 3 tablespoons of kosher salt. Let the beans sit and “brine” for 12 to 24 hours. Check after eight hours or so for “doneness”.
  3. Drain and rinse thoroughly. They are ready for use.
  • Using a microplane, zest the lemon and set the zest aside (or using a vegetable peeler, shave six 1-inch-wide strips of zest from the lemon – – avoid the white pith. Cut the strips crosswise 1/4 inch wide). Juice half of the lemon and reserve the juice.

In a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat, sauté  the pancetta with 1 tablespoon of the oil, stirring occasionally, until it renders most of its fat and starts to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a paper-towel-lined plate.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and add the rosemary, garlic, and red pepper flakes; cook, swirling the contents of the pan, until sizzling steadily and fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  • Return the pan to medium heat and add the beans, chicken broth, roasted peppers, and lemon zest.
  • Bring to a boil; then reduce the heat to maintain a steady simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the broth thickens and the flavors meld, 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Stir in 1 Tbs. of the lemon juice and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Season to taste with more lemon juice or salt.
  • Serve drizzled with the remaining 1 Tbs. oil and sprinkled with the pancetta bits, Pecorino Romano, and a sprinkle of fresh parsley.

Serves 4 – 6

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