Serves 8 to 10
As with my Summer Minestrone, think of this recipe as a template for any hearty winter vegetable soup. You can vary the dried beans and include other vegetables- such as leeks, potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips or rutabaga, parsnips, or myriad winter greens, like escarole, spinach, and chard.
Active Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 40 minutes
- 4 ounces pancetta, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 8 fresh sage leaves
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 2 cups whole San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand
- 2 cups dried cannellini beans, soaked overnight, drained
- 1 pound green split peas, rinsed
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- Kosher salt
- Peperoncino flakes
- 2 large carrots, chopped
- 1/2 small head savoy cabbage, shredded
- 1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced
- 1 bunch kale, finely chopped
- Freshly grated Grana Padano or pecorino, for serving
Combine the pancetta and garlic in the work bowl of a food processor, and pulse to make a smooth pestata. Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the pestata, and cook until the fat is rendered, about 4 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the onion, celery, sage, and thyme in the same food processor (no need to wash it out), and pulse to make a second smooth pestata. Add this pestata to the pot, and cook until it dries out and begins to stick to the bottom of the pot, 6 to 7 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, beans, split peas, bay leaves, and 5 quarts water. Bring to a simmer, and adjust the heat so the soup is simmering rapidly. Cook, uncovered, until the split peas just begin to break down, about 30 minutes. Season with 1 tablespoon salt and a big pinch of peperoncino.
Add the carrots and cabbage, and simmer for 30 minutes more. Add the squash and kale. Simmer until all of the vegetables are tender and the soup is thick and flavorful, about 45 minutes to 1 hour more. Remove the bay leaves. Serve the soup with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of grated cheese.