If you’ve ever had good collard greens, you know that the pot likker, the pork- and (sometimes) vinegar-spiked tonic left at the bottom of the pot, is the best part. I’d make pot likker tea on grey, achy days like this, except it’s hard to get good bacon flavor out of a tea bag.
Here’s a soup that combines the rich, healing, slightly acidic flavor of pot likker with kale, white beans, carrots, good bacon, and that ever-present fixture in my cheese drawer, the Parmesan cheese rind. I’m so glad I saved it for this.
Recipe for Kale, Cannelini, and Bacon Stew
Recipe 36 of 365
Cannelini beans, homemade stock, and the tough end of a hunk of Parmesan cheese give this stew a rich, silky mouthfeel. Like most, it’s infinitely expandable; chopped zucchini or cooked barley would be delicious additions.
Serve the stew with good, crusty bread and a simple salad.
TIME: 30 minutes
MAKES: 4 servings as part of a larger dinner
2 thick slices bacon or pancetta, diced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small bunch kale (5 – 6 big leaves)
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock, preferably homemade
2 carrots, peeled and diced into 1/4” pennies
1 rind piece from a used hunk of Parmesan cheese, about the size of a matchbook
1 (15-ounce) can cannelini beans
Heat a large, high-sided skillet or wide soup pot (with a lid that fits) over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, add the onion, and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
Meanwhile, strip the kale leaves off their tough stalks and break the leaves into roughly bite-sized pieces (the kale will shrink down a lot when it cooks, so no need to be exact). Wash the kale in a bowl of cold water, and drain it in a colander.
When the onions have softened, add the garlic, season with salt and pepper, and cook for about a minute. Add the kale, with the water still clinging to the leaves, cover the skillet, and cook for 2 or 3 minutes, or until the kale begins to wilt a bit.
Remove the cover, add the vinegar, and cook for about a minute, pushing the kale around the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to release any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the stock, carrot pennies, and Parmesan rind, and bring to a strong simmer. Cook for about 15 minutes, or until the carrots are soft.
Stir in the cannelini beans (with the liquid from the can) and simmer for another minute or two to heat the beans through. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.