Saffron Kale Soup with Parsley Fennel Pistou, Crispy Pancetta and Croutons

October 22, 2012
0 Ratings
  • Makes 8 cups
Author Notes

A rainy October afternoon in Seattle just screams "make soup" and, like most of my soups, this evolved from what was on hand. I struggle with restraint at times, especially when just making something up, but I think it came off pretty well here.

The soup on its own is delicious and open to variations, of course. The pistou used fennel fronds I had on hand but no reason you couldn't do just parsley, or basil, or some combination.

(Sorry about the photo, it's sideways and I can't quite work out how to fix that!) —Reiney

What You'll Need
  • Saffron Kale Soup
  • 1/4 cup pancetta, diced (or use bacon)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 3 celery ribs, diced
  • 2 tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 cup potato, diced (how many will depend on how big - I used 3 fingerlings)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon AP Flour
  • 4 sprigs thyme, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • handful celery leaves (leave out if not available, I just picked the celery clean and tossed them in)
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • small pinches saffron (don't be excessive here!)
  • 4 cups Kale, finely chopped
  • 1/4 Stale baguette, cubed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Fennel Parsley Pistou
  • 1/2 cup chopped fennel fronds
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 green onions, dark to medium green parts only, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan (or to taste)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  1. Saffron Kale Soup
  2. In a stock pot or dutch oven, sautée pancetta in olive oil until fat is rendered and pancetta is slightly crispy. Remove pancetta, set aside, leaving fat in the pot.
  3. Sweat onion, carrot, celery in fat with a generous pinch of salt until vegetables are slightly soft. Add tomatoes and potatoes with tomato paste.
  4. Toast tomato paste briefly and toss in flour, thyme, celery leaves, bay and saffron. Add 3 cups of the chicken stock, bring to a boil and simmer until vegetables are well cooked, about 20 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile in a separate pot, heat remaining chicken stock and cook kale until soft but still vibrant, about 5 minutes. Drain, reserving stock, and set aside.
  6. Blend soup together for at least a minute. Thin out with chicken stock to desired consistency and stir through kale. Check seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. In a separate pan, toss bread in olive oil and a bit of salt, toasting on the stovetop until golden brown.
  8. Serve hot soup topped with a dollop of pistou, a few toasted bread cubes and some of the crispy pancetta.
  1. Fennel Parsley Pistou
  2. In a food processor or mortar and pestle, grind all ingredients except oil to a paste.
  3. Add oil in slowly to make an emulsion.

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