White Bean and Lacinato Kale Soup with Smoked Ham Hock
After flavoring the beans for this creamy winter soup, smoked ham hock is shredded and pan-fried, rendering it crisp and intensifying its flavor.
Yield: serves 8
- 1⁄2 cup olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
- 1 carrot, roughly chopped
- 1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped
- 8 cups chicken stock
- 2 1⁄2 cups cannellini or Great Northern beans, soaked overnight and drained
- 1 bouquet garni (1 tsp. whole black peppercorns, 2 each bay leaves, sprigs rosemary, and thyme tied up in cheesecloth)
- 1 smoked ham hock
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 4 stalks lacinato or regular kale (stems thinly sliced, leaves halved lengthwise and thinly sliced)
- Heat 1⁄4 cup oil in an 8-qt. saucepan over medium-high. Cook garlic, celery, carrot, and onion until golden, 10–12 minutes. Add stock, beans, bouquet garni, and ham hock; boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer, covered slightly, until beans are mushy, 1–1 1⁄2 hours. Discard bouquet garni. Transfer ham hock to a plate and let cool; discard skin and bone and shred meat. Transfer half the beans to a bowl; set aside. Using an immersion or regular blender, purée soup until very smooth. Stir in reserved beans, salt, and pepper; keep warm. Heat 2 tbsp. oil in a 12" skillet over medium-high; cook kale stems until tender, 3–4 minutes. Add kale leaves, salt, and pepper; cook until leaves are wilted, 2–3 minutes, and stir into soup. Add remaining oil to skillet; cook shredded pork until crisp, 6–8 minutes. Ladle soup into bowls; top with crispy pork.