This rustic, satisfying Mediterranean-style soup gains texture and protein from creamy cranberry beans, also called borlotti beans, making it a hearty one-pot meal. The soup’s rich flavor starts with a sofrito base, then builds with sage and Albariño wine, a fruity and intensely aromatic Spanish varietal.
Cook and stir pancetta in 5-quart saucepot or Dutch oven on medium heat 4 minutes or until browned. Add onion, carrots, celery and garlic; cook and stir 6 to 8 minutes or until vegetables soften.
Stir in remaining ingredients, except the kale. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.
Remove lemon peel; discard. With center part of cover removed to let steam escape, puree 1 cup of the soup in blender on high speed until smooth. Return pureed mixture to pot. Stir kale into soup. Simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes or until kale is tender and soup is slightly thickened, stirring occasionally. To serve, ladle into soup bowls. Garnish with thin twists of lemon peel, grated Asiago cheese and Asiago Crostini (recipe follows), if desired.
Test Kitchen Tips:
• Asiago Crostini: Place thinly sliced baguette in single layer on baking sheet. Brush lightly on both sides with olive oil. Bake in preheated 350°F oven 5 minutes or until golden brown. Sprinkle with grated Asiago cheese. Bake 2 minutes longer or just until cheese is melted.
• To substitute dried cranberry beans for the canned beans, rinse, soak and cook 2/3 cup dried cranberry beans according to package directions until tender. Drain beans. Prepare recipe as directed using the pre-cooked beans.
• Borlotti beans, also known as cranberry beans are popular in Italian cooking. Borlotti beans have a beige color splashed with red streaks, which they lose during cooking, and a creamy texture with a mild, nutty flavor. They are more commonly found dried or canned in most groceries or online specialty stores.
• Albariño is a variety of white wine grape grown in Spain that produces a dry, aromatic, crisp wine, high in acidity with citrus and peach notes.