3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 pound pancetta, chopped
4 to 5 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 medium white or yellow onion, chopped
2 large heads of escarole, washed, dried, and coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated or ground nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 quart chicken stock or broth
2 15-ounce cans white beans or cannellini
Grated Parmesan or Romano cheese, to pass at the table
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.
Place the bread in the oven to heat and crust it up.
Heat a medium soup pot or a large, deep-sided skillet over medium-high heat. Add the EVOO, then add the pancetta, separating the pieces as you drop it in.
Brown the pancetta lightly, about 2 minutes or so, then add the garlic, red pepper flakes, and onions, and reduce the heat a bit.
Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, then start turning and wilting piles of the greens into the pan. Once the greens are all in the pan, season them with nutmeg, salt, and pepper.
Add the chicken stock and beans and turn the heat back up to medium high to bring the soup to a boil. Once the soup boils, reduce the heat back down to simmer and cook for 10 minutes.
Adjust the salt and pepper and serve the soup in shallow bowls with lots of cheese and crusty hunks of bread for mopping up the bowl.
I made this meal for a family in our church who just had a baby. I tasted a little of it to make sure it was edible. It was very tasty. RR says, "Pancetta gives the soup its deep flavor. It is rolled cured pork that is similar to bacon, but not smoked. It is widely available at the deli counter in larger supermarkets or small Italian import shops." I was lucky that my grocery store had it this week. Sometimes they are all out. I sent the loaf of bread to the family, so I didn't try the bread with the soup. I hope they like it. I changed the Parmigiano-Reggiano to Parmesan cheese.