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White Bean and Bacon Soup with Fresh Kale and Mini Pasta Shells

Don't fear the kale.

It's super-cheap, doesn't dominate in flavor, and is such a perfect green to toss right into any soup your whipping up. It holds it's own without losing it's integrity, if you know what I mean. And according to Parenthood, it's super-trendy right now. We used fresh instead of the frozen as the recipe called for - it was a good move. I also used less water, more chicken broth, and regrettably omitted the Parmesan rind. It's cheaper to buy pre-shredded Parmesan cheese, and typically the bag doesn't come with the rind. I don't blame them - this is the first recipe I've prepared that called for it in the first place.

This soup is also loaded with an ingredient that will forever prevent my family from ever going vegetarian:  


It's like crack candy to us, and adds such a rich smoky undertone to this soup. The original recipe called for about 3 slices - (cue laughter). You know darn well we didn't only add three slices.

. . . .

Who am I kidding, though... everyone is probably neglecting their soup pots and roasting up all kinds of Thanksgiving goodies in the oven today. Fair enough. I think I can almost smell the turkey already.

This year  for Thanksgiving, we're traveling a little North to visit some of my Mom's family, then stopping by Ryan's parent's house on the way home for some pie. I always thought the 2.5 hour drive was an eternity, but after driving to Washington and back last month, the quick little drive to Logan should be a cinch.

Now, making sure the pies don't get destroyed on the way up is an entirely different story...

But I have hope: if I can get 7 pies to Studio 5 on Monday without any destruction, then maybe we can pull this one off. However, I didn't have the manchild in the car with me for that one, so flying books/toys and imminent tantrums weren't exactly in the forecast. It's all worth it, though, right? 

White Bean and Bacon Soup with Fresh Kale and Mini Pasta Shells

6 slices of bacon, trim most of the fat off, chop up the rest in small pieces
1 small onion, diced
3 carrots, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 cloves garlic
1 T tomato paste
3/4 t dried thyme
salt and pepper
4 C chicken broth
1/2 C grated parmesan
1 C small pasta (we used mini shells)
1 15-oz can white beans, drained and rinsed
1 C chopped fresh kale

1. Put the chopped bacon in a large soup pot over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until crispy - about 4 minutes.
2. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened - about 3 minutes.
3. Add the carrots, garlic, tomato paste, thyme and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cook until carrots begin to soften - about 2 minutes.
4. Add the chicken broth and 2 cups of water. Increase the heat to high, cover and bring to a boil.
5. Add the pasta and beans and cook, uncovered - about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to mediuma nd add the kale. Simmer, uncovered, until slightly thickened - about 7 minutes.
6. Stir in half of the grated Parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and top with the remaining Parmesan cheese.

Recipe Adapted From: Food Network Magazine, 2012 November Issue 
Yields: 5 servings


  1. SOUP'S ON GIRL! this looks so amazing I can almost smell it! Way to cheer on that Kale! Remember to sing 'Over the River and Through the Woods' to the man child - and if it bugs your big man.... sing it twice! (: great job


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