ZUPPA DI GNOCCHETTI E SCAROLA
(Gnocchi and Escarole Soup)
MAKES 2 QUARTS
1 cup dried red kidney beans, picked over
7 cups water
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 cup gnocchetti, orzo, or ditalini
1/4 pound pancetta or bacon, diced
1 large leek (8 ounces), white part only, washed well and
1 pound escarole, washed, drained, and coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
3 cups hot beef broth or veal stock
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Grinding of black pepper
Rinds of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Soak the beans overnight in 2 cups of the water. Next day, drain
the beans, put them in a 2-quart saucepan, cover them with water,
bring them to a boil, and continue to let them boil until just al
dente, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the beans, reserving 2 cups of the
cooking water, place them in a large bowl, and set aside.
Refill the saucepan with the remaining 5 cups water, bring to a
boil, stir in 1 teaspoon of the salt and the gnocchetti and cook
over medium-high heat until just al dente. Drain and add the
gnocchetti to the kidney beans.
In a soup pot, slowly brown the pancetta over medium heat, stirring
often until it softens and begins to render some of its fat. Add
the sliced leek and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft. Stir
in the escarole, remaining teaspoon salt, celery salt, stock,
reserved cooking water, tomato paste, pepper, and cheese rinds.
Cover the pot, bring the mixture to a boil, and cook over medium
heat for 5 minutes. Uncover the pot, stir in the kidney beans and
gnocchetti, cover the pot, and cook 5 minutes longer before serving.
TIP: Clean escarole well by soaking it in cold water for 20 minutes,
then drain and rinse again in a colander. This also works for leeks.
Cut them in half lengthwise first.
TIP: When you can no longer grate the remaining Parmigiano cheese
near the rind, add the rind to the soup pot along with the stock
and water. At the end of the cooking time, remove the rinds, scrape
off the softened cheese, discarding the rind, and stir it back into
NOTE: The soup can be made several days ahead but will thicken as
it stands. Reheat it, adding warm water if a thinner consistency