A hearty soup from Food Network chef Rachael Ray's cookbook Look + Cook.
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 lb. sliced pancetta, cut into 1/4" dice (optional)
2 carrots, peeled and chopped into 1/4" dice
3 celery stalks, chopped into 1/4" dice
2 bay leaves, fresh or dried
3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped or grated
1 large or 2 medium red onions, chopped
Salt and pepper
1 oz. dried porcini or mixed wild mushrooms, chopped
1/2 cup soft sundried tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 quart chicken or vegetable stock
1 small bunch of purple or green kale, washed and dried
1 cup semolina or whole-wheat ditalini or other short cut pasta
1 (15-oz.) can chickpeas
Pecorino Romano cheese, grated or shredded, to pass at the table
Step 1: Place a heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium-high heat with the olive oil. Add the pancetta to the pot (if using) and cook until crispy, 3-4 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, bay leaves, garlic, and onions to the pot, season with salt and pepper, and cook until the veggies are tender, 7-8 minutes more.
Step 2: Add the mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, stock, and 2 cups water to the pot, and bring up to a boil.
Step 3: Hold the kale by the stems and curl up your opposite hand around the greens at the base of the stem. With a quick jerking motion strip the greens off and away from the stems and chop the greens.
Step 4: Add the kale, pasta, and chickpeas to the soup pot, and cook until the pasta is al dente. Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste. Discard the bay leaves.
Step 5: Ladle the soup into shallow bowls, top with the cheese, and serve.
Reprinted with permission from Rachael Ray's Look + Cook (2010 Clarkson Potter).