Baby, it has been real cold outside! We have had two snowstorms already this January. Anything that can warm you up from inside out is necessary on these days. This White Bean, Kale, and Pancetta soup has ton of flavor. Adding in kale and carrots makes it super hearty. The pancetta and sherry in the recipe add an unexpected depth of flavor. The best part is, it really only takes about 30-40 minutes to make!
The purpose of the pancetta is to add a salty bite. Then the sherry comes in to help you scrape up all the brown bits of flavor. Saving the salty, crunchy, bits of pancetta to top the soup with is even better than crumbling up crackers. You can skip the addition of cream at the end if you are looking for an even healthier version. The soup still tastes great and is satisfying. That cream at the end just helps smooth things out!
In heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven heat one tablespoon of olive oil. Add the pancetta and saute until it becomes brown and crispy. Remove the pancetta with a slotted spoon and reserve.
Add the garlic to the pot and saute until fragrant. Then add the onions and carrots. Season with salt, pepper, harissa/red pepper flakes. Stir to incorporate.
Saute until the onions become translucent . Add a little more olive oil to the pan if necessary.
Add the sherry to the pot and scrape any brown bits from the bottom. Let it simmer and reduce for about 4-5 minutes. Then add in your chicken broth, beans with their liquid, the herb sprigs, and bay leaf. Then bring to a boil.
Reduce to a simmer and cover for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes remove the lid and turn off the heat. Let the soup cool. Remove the bay leaf and herb sprigs, discard.
Using a hand blender roughly puree the soup until desired consistency is reached. I blended it until smooth, but some people prefer a chunkier soup!
Turn the heat to a medium low setting to warm the soup back up. Then add the kale into the pot, gently stirring to help the kale wilt into the soup.
Add in the parmesan cheese and stir to incorporate. Let the soup come to a simmer for 10 minutes covered.
Remove the soup from the heat and stir in your cream. Ladle into bowls and garnish with crispy pancetta if desired.