Menisha

Recipe courtesy Michael Chiarello, from Recipes from Michael Chiarello's Napa NapaStyle (2001)
Episode: Northern California with Michael Chiarello
TOTAL TIME: 3 hr 30 min
Prep: 45 min
Inactive Prep: --
Cook: 2 hr 45 min
YIELD: about 4 quarts
LEVEL: --

ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups dried cannellini beans
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 4 ounces prosciutto, cut into 3 pieces
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and halved
  • 1 large stalk celery, halved
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut into 2 pieces
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 2 bulbs fennel, medium or small dice (about 2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 16 lightly packed cups of roughly hand-torn greens (blanched first if truly overgrown ? a minimum of 3 types of greens, such as chard, collards, spinach, mustard, Brussels sprouts, cabbage), hand-torn so they don't all look even
  • Up to 1 cup minced fennel greens
  • 1 teaspoon toasted fennel seed (optional depending on how many fennel greens you used. Add more if you don't have much fresh greens)
  • 3 whole jalapenos
  • 3 baking potatoes, like russets, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 2 cups)
  • 2 cups 1/2-inch diced zucchini
  • 1 cup 1/2-inch diced green beans, blue lakes or ky wonders
  • 1/2 cup chopped fennel greens
  • TO SERVE:
    • 6 cups 1/2-inch diced day-old bread, crusts removed if desired (If not old enough, dry out in oven at 350 degrees F.)
    • 3 tablespoons new-press olive oil
    • Salt and cracked black pepper
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    Directions

    Place the beans and the water in a saucepot. Bring the beans to boil, turn off, cool, drain, and discard water. Put the beans back into a pot with 12 cups of water. Add the prosciutto, onion, celery, and carrot to the beans. Bring the pot to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until beans are tender. Cook uncovered as slowly as possible, about 1 1/2 hours. Add salt, to taste (about 2 teaspoons), after about 30 minutes or roughly 3/4 of the way through cooking), when the beans are beginning to tenderize. Remove the whole vegetables.

    Saute the onion, fennel, and garlic in olive oil in large pot. Add a pinch of salt to pull moisture out. Cook until just softened slightly, but with absolutely no color, about 8 minutes.

    Add all the greens, reduce heat to low so the vegetables underneath don't burn (the greens throw their water as they begin to steam). Turn them over as they wilt, so they cook evenly. After 3 to 4 minutes, add all the reserved broth and the beans.

    Add the fennel seeds, jalapeno, potatoes, zucchini, and green beans. Simmer for 30 minutes. Skim as needed, if there's foam.

    Add additional fennel greens. Bring back to simmer. Add several grinds of pepper.

    Pull the chiles out. Remove the stems and mash chiles with a fork with some of the potatoes. Add a little bit of the broth, just enough to make a loose paste.

    In each bowl, add 1-cup bread cubes, then ladle over 12 ounces of soup. Drizzle with olive oil and pass around the chile-potato condiment.

    Can be frozen.

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