This soup is a stick-to-your-ribs flexitarian special. Make it with chicken broth and prosciutto, and you end up with a carnivore's delight. Make it with vegetable stock and no prosciutto, and you have a vegetarian's delight.
Either way, it's plenty hearty. The potatoes give it body and creaminess. The spinach and kale give it earthiness and a bright green color.
For the potatoes, I went with Yukon Gold because I like their buttery taste and because they hold their shape when cooked, unlike high-starch, thick-skinned baking potatoes. However, any potato will do as long as you cut it into 1-inch chunks. If the only spuds you have on hand are baking potatoes (such as russets), just be sure to peel them first. Otherwise, the skin will be too chewy in the soup.
There's very little fat in this recipe. The vegetarian version uses just two tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil and half an ounce of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. A little bit of that justly celebrated cheese goes a long way.
POTATO AND GREENS SOUP WITH PARMESAN TOASTS
Makes four servings
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 pound Yukon Gold (or other thin-skinned potatoes), cut into 1-inch chunks
4 to 5 cups chicken or vegetable broth
½ cup dry white wine
6 cups packed torn kale leaves
6 cups packed baby spinach leaves
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
¼ pound thinly sliced prosciutto
Twelve ½-inch-thick diagonally cut slices of baguette
½ ounce finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about five minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for one minute. Add the potatoes, 4 cups of the stock and the wine. Bring to a boil, cover the pan and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the kale, cover the pan, then simmer for 10 minutes. Add the spinach and the pepper flakes, cover, and simmer for five minutes.
Working in two batches, transfer about 3 cups total of the soup solids with a little added broth each time, to a blender and puree until smooth. (Be careful, hot foods expand in the blender.) Return the puree to the saucepan, add salt to taste and the additional cup of stock if needed to achieve the desired texture. Heat until hot.
Meanwhile, set a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Arrange the prosciutto slices in a single layer on the rack, then bake on the oven's middle rack for 10 to 12 minutes, or until they begin to crisp. Remove the rack from the sheet pan and set it on the counter to let the prosciutto cool. When cool, crumble the prosciutto.
Arrange the baguette slices in a single layer on the sheet pan and brush with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Bake them on the oven's middle shelf until golden brown, eight to 10 minutes. Sprinkle the grated cheese evenly over them, return the slices to the oven and bake until the cheese is just melted, one to two minutes.
To serve, ladle the soup into four bowls, then top each portion with some of the prosciutto crisps and three toasts on the side.
Nutritients per serving: 630 calories; 120 calories from fat; 13 grams fat (3 grams saturated; no trans fat); 25 milligrams cholesterol; 96 grams carbohydrate; 8 grams fiber; 31 grams protein; 1,640 milligrams sodium.
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