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A  huge pot full of winter vegetables can be every bit as warming and nourishing as a meat stew. A little pancetta provides fat and flavour; vegetarians can replace it with an extra tablespoon or two of olive oil.

Ingredients

3/4 cups  (175 mL)  dried red kidney beans
2 tbsp  (30 mL)  olive oil
3 oz  (90 g)  pancetta, diced
2 leeks (white and light green parts only), chopped
half large Spanish onion or sweet onion, chopped
1/2 cup  (125 mL)  chopped flat-leaf parsley
6 fresh sage leaves or 1/2 tsp/2 mL dried sage
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp  (1 mL)  black pepper
1-1/2 cups  (375 mL)  diced carrots
1-1/2 cups  (375 mL)  diced celery
1 can (28 oz/796 mL) whole tomatoes
3 cups  (750 mL)  shredded Savoy cabbage
2 cups  (500 mL)  diced peeled potatoes
3 inch (8 cm) piece Parmesan cheese rind, scrubbed (optional)
1-3/4 tsp  (9 mL)  salt
2 cups  (500 mL)  shredded dino kale, Tuscan or curly kale
4 oz  (125 g)  small pasta
grated Parmesan cheese

Preparation

Soak beans in water overnight. (Or, in saucepan, cover beans with water; bring to boil. Boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat; cover and soak for 1 hour.) Drain.

Place beans in saucepan; add enough water to cover beans by 4 inches/10 cm. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer until tender, 1 to 2 hours. Drain, reserving enough of the cooking liquid, and adding water if necessary, to make 8 cups/2 L.

In large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-low heat; fry pancetta until golden and fat is rendered. Add leeks and onion; fry until soft, 8 to 10 minutes.

Increase heat to medium; add parsley, sage, bay leaf and pepper. Fry, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add carrots and celery; cook, stirring often, until celery is soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in reserved cooking liquid, tomatoes and their juice, cabbage, potatoes, Parmesan rind (if using) and salt. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until cabbage is soft, about 30 minutes.

Good luck!

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