Broccoli rabe and I have become very close.
It’s my new favorite bitter green.
Raw it’s got a whang to it that I thought only belonged in old tennis shoes.
Cooked in boiling water and cooled in ice water, it mellows into a spicy vegetable that adds its own special touch to soup and pasta. As a sautéed side dish flavored with crushed red peppers and garlic, it pairs well with grilled meats and poultry.
Here, it’s the star in a mellow white bean soup perfect for a cold winter’s night in front of the fire.
Cannelini and Broccoli Rabe Soup
Adapted from a recipe for Kale and White Bean Stew Bon Appetit Magazine February 2009
1 large bunch broccoli rabe, washed, stems trimmed and chopped
A couple of good swirls extra virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped shallots
1 cup chopped fennel
1 cup chopped carrots
1 large spoonful garlic confit, smashed
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large cans cannelini beans, rinsed
1 cup dry white wine
4 cups chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1-½ tsp dried thyme
Splash of sherry vinegar
¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
Bring large pot of water to boil, salt it generously and add broccoli rabe. Cook for five minutes. Remove from boiling water to bowl with ice water to stop the cooking. Drain the rabe and squeeze the water from the cooked vegetable. Set aside.
Heat large Dutch oven over medium high heat and add a couple of swirls extra virgin olive oil. When oil gets wavy, add the shallots, fennel, carrots and garlic confit and cook for about 1 minutes, stirring often, til golden. Season well with the coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the white wine and bring to slow boil and cook for five minutes. Add the cannelini, thyme, bay leaves and chicken stock and cook for about 35 minutes.
Using an immersion blender, blend soup for a few minutes with the blender to mash up the beans to desired thickness. Add the broccoli rabe and cook for five minutes. Add the splash of sherry vinegar and the parsley right before serving. Season to taste with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Serves 4 generously.
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