It’s Valentine’s Day, and while everyone else is talking about chocolate and sexy, sexy food….I’m talking pork and beans. Hot, right?! You can probably tell by the photo above that this isn’t the pork and beans of your youth. There are no hotdogs here, or beans from a can. In reality, this bears a close likeness to a traditional Italian Minestrone, but since there’s no pasta, I’m sticking with calling this pork and beans…and chard.
If you’re one of those people who are a little afraid of eating those uber good-for-you hearty greens, then I urge you to give chard a try. Consider it your gateway green. Chard has a much more delicate flavor than kale or collards and is fantastic simply sauteed with a little onion and balsamic. Used in a stew, soup or risotto, chard softly melts into the dish, adding body without jarring you with that srong “green” flavor. The sausage, bacon and tender Borlotti beans take the center stage in this dish, making for a hearty bowl of soup that even chard skeptics will love. Share a bowl with the one you love today.
What’s your favorite way to eat those hearty greens? Share your favorites in the comments…
1 lb lean pork sausage
3 carrots, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, diced
3 slices bacon, chopped
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 14oz can fire roasted tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 bunch chard, washed, stems removed and chopped into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup parsley, minced
salt & pepper to taste
- Rinse the beans and soak them overnight in a large bowl of water, covering the beans with at least 3″ of water. The next morning, pour the beans and soaking water into a large pot. Add 1 stalk of celery, half an onion, 2 bay leaves, 1 peeled clove of garlic and a carrot (chopped into a few large pieces) to the pot. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until the beans are almost, but not quite done – nearly soft with a bit of chalkiness left. Drain the beans, reserving some of the pot liquid.
- Heat a large soup pot over medium heat. Crumble the pork sausage into the pot, and brown the sausage, stirring occasionally. When the sausage is cooked through, scoop it out of the pot into a clean bowl and set aside. Wipe out the pot and return it to the burner on medium heat. Add the bacon to the pot, and cook until about halfway crisp and some fat has rendered into the pot. Add the carrots, celery and onion to the bacon. Saute for 7-10 minutes, until the onions are translucent and beginning to soften. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add the tomatoes, chicken stock, beans, sausage, red pepper flakes, bay leaves and stir to combine. There should be enough liquid to almost cover all the stuff…if there’s not, add a ladle or two of the bean cooking liquid. Partially cover, and simmer for 1 hour, until the beans are fully tender. Taste, and season as needed with salt and pepper.
- To thicken the soup just a bit, use the back of your wooden spoon and mash some of the beans against the sides and bottom of the pot. Simmer for another 10 minutes or so, uncovered. Then, add the chard and parsley to the pot, and gently fold the greens into the soup. Cook for 5 more minutes, until the greens are tender, then serve.