Tuscan White Bean Stew
Pancetta is Italian unsmoked bacon. If it is unavailable, substitute 4 ounces of regular bacon (about 4 slices). Homemade chicken broth will yield the best-tasting bean stew, but store-bought broth will work well, too. Be sure to use a low-sodium broth, which allows you to control the saltiness of the stew. Swanson is the test kitchen’s favorite commercial low-sodium chicken broth.
- table salt
- 1 Pound dried cannellini beans (about 2 cups)
- 1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil , plus extra for drizzling
- 6 Ounces pancetta *
- 1 large onion
- 2 celery ribs
- 2 carrots
- 8 garlic cloves
- 4 Cups low-sodium chicken broth * *
- 3 Cups water
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 bunch kale or collard greens (about 1 pound)
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 1 Sprig fresh rosemary
- ground black pepper
Rinse 1 pound beans and pick out any blemished beans and stones. Dissolve 3 tablespoons table salt in 4 quarts cold water in large bowl or container. Add beans and soak at room temperature for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours. Drain beans and rinse well.
Cut 6 ounces pancetta into 1/4-inch pieces. Peel 1 onion and chop medium. Cut 2 celery ribs into 1/2-inch pieces. Peel 2 carrots and cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Peel and crush 8 garlic cloves. Trim stems from 1 pound kale or collard greens. Chop leaves into 1-inch pieces. You should have about 8 cups loosely packed. Drain 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes.
Sauté Pancetta and Aromatics
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 250 degrees. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and pancetta in large Dutch oven over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until pancetta is lightly browned and fat has rendered, 6 to 10 minutes. Add onion, celery, and carrots. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and lightly browned, 10 to 16 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add Broth and Cook
Stir in 4 cups chicken broth, 3 cups water, 2 bay leaves, and soaked and drained beans. Increase heat to high and bring to simmer. Cover pot and transfer to oven. Cook until beans are almost tender (very center of beans will still be firm), 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Add Tomatoes and Greens
Remove pot from oven and stir in greens and tomatoes. Cover pot and return to oven. Continue to cook until beans and greens are fully tender, 30 to 40 minutes longer.
Remove pot from oven and submerge rosemary sprig in stew. Cover and let stand 15 minutes.
Finish and Serve
Discard bay leaves and rosemary sprig and season stew with salt and pepper to taste. If desired, use back of spoon to press some beans against side of pot to thicken stew. Serve drizzled with olive oil.