Cookbook Profile

Poor Man's Bread, Kale,
and Black Pepper Soup

Serves 3 to 4


At a restaurant in Siena a waiter told me: "In Florence they put bread in their soup and here we put soup on our bread." Thus this wonderful thick soup, which you can prepare in advance, then reheat.

1 pound young tender kale (Tuscan, black, lacinata, or dinosaur)
1-1/4 ounces pancetta, chilled or frozen
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup minced onion
2 large garlic cloves, crushed
6 to 8 thin slices of dense, dry country-style bread, grilled or toasted,
     and rubbed with plenty of fresh garlic
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 ounces grated pecorino cheese (about 1/2 cup)

1. Stem, wash, and finely shred the kale to make about 5-1/2 cups. Use a large-hole grater to shred the pancetta to make about 3 tablespoons.

2. Heat the olive oil in a wide saucepan over medium heat. Add the pancetta, onion, and garlic and cook until soft and golden, 5 minutes. Add the kale, turning it over to mix well, and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Add 5 cups water and bring the mixture to a boil.

Reduce the heat and cook slowly for about 20 minutes, or until the kale is very tender. (The recipe can be prepared up to this point 5 hours in advance.)

3. About 20 minutes before serving, slowly reheat the soup to boiling. Season with salt to taste. Let simmer 5 minutes. Divide the grilled bread among 3 or 4 wide soup bowls. Ladle the greens and liquid into each of the bowls. Garnish each serving with a generous drizzle of olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and 1 to 2 tablespoons grated cheese. Let settle about 10 minutes.

Serve with extra cheese and pepper.

Notes: Tuscan kale is available all year round, but it is best after the first frost. If you have some Parmigiano-Reggiano rinds in the refrigerator, add one to the pot in Step 2. Remember to remove it, rinse, and save to flavor a tomato sauce or another hardy soup.


Buy the Book!


The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen
Recipes for the Passionate Cook
by Paula Wolfert
John Wiley & Sons
368 pages, US $34.95, Cloth
ISBN: 0471-26288-9
Recipe reprinted by permission


The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen



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This page created January 2004