Alberta Minestrone

Brad Smoliak, Kitchen by Brad

2 c white beans, soaked overnight
4 L chicken stock or water
¼ c canola oil
¼ c bacon, diced
1 c onion, diced
1 c carrots, diced
1 c celery, diced
1 c cabbage, shredded
1 c potatoes diced or quartered
28 oz can tomatoes, rough chopped, or use fresh
1 c chopped zucchini
1 T dried oregano
1 t red chilies flakes
2 c spinach, chopped kale or any type of green
1 c Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
(Optional vegetables such as pearl onions, mushrooms)

Soak the beans, overnight, drain and add to the chicken stock. Bring to a boil and simmer until beans are soft, 1½ hours. (If you do not soak the beans overnight, you will have to cook the beans longer in the chicken stock). Once the beans are cooked, drain and purée half of the beans, then mix the whole beans and pureed beans together. Set aside.

While the beans are simmering, heat the oil and cook the bacon until it starts to render the fat. Add the onions and carrots, celery, cabbage, potatoes, stirring to make sure the vegetables are well coated with some of the fat. Add the tomatoes, zucchini, oregano, chiles and the beans. Simmer over low heat for 1 hour, stirring frequently. After 1 hour and all of the vegetables are cooked, remove from heat and stir in the spinach and the cheese. Season, cover with a lid and let the soup steep for 10 minutes, stir then serve. If the soup is too thick, you may want to add a little chicken stock or water.

Serves 4-6.