from Ayers Creek Farm newsletter (link):
There are various versions of this classic northern Italian soup, Infarinata, that bring dry beans, cornmeal, and kale together with a bit of pork. In a conversation over lunch, Linda Colwell reminded us that La Jota of Trieste is also a variation on this rustic soup, using sauerkraut instead of kale, and fragrant with cumin. Our friend and former neighbor, China Tresemer, helped us put together this recipe.
The recipe calls for unsmoked but cured pork: guanciale or pancetta, but in a pinch, a piece of salt pork will do. You can make this dish without the meat as well. Likewise, savoy cabbage, rocket or escarole can be used for the greens. For beans, we use Borlotto Lamon which has a deep nutty flavor and pleasant sweetness. The water the bean cooks in yields a delicious broth. There are several reasons why this variety is not more available commercially: Pole beans cost more to grow. The Lamon must be handpicked and has just three or four beans per pod compared to the usual five to seven. It also ripens late, splits in the rain, and is prone to viruses. Mere details, other than that it is perfect, the most glorious of the cranberry beans.
3 cups (525g) Borlotto Lamon dry beans
4 ounces (100g) unsmoked but cured pork, minced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 carrot, minced
1 onion, minced
1 stalk celery, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 sage leaves, fresh or dried, minced
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes, preferably your own
~ Salt and pepper
8 stalks of kale, collards, or lacinato kale, rib removed, minced
1 1/2 cups (210 g) medium-coarse flint cornmeal
~ good olive oil
- Soak the dry beans in plenty of water overnight. Drain the beans, add fresh water to cover the beans by about 2 inches (5 cm), bring to a boil, then turn down the heat, and simmer until tender, 40 to 90 minutes.
- In a soup pot, sauté the pork in the olive oil until it begins to turn golden. Add the minced carrot, onion, and celery, and sauté gently until the vegetables are soft. Add the garlic and the minced sage leaves. Add the tomatoes. Cook until the mixture thickens a bit, about 12 minutes. Add salt to taste. Chop the kale leaves and add to the pot. Add the beans and their liquor, topping the soup off with more water to create a good broth. Season with salt to taste.
- Bring the soup to a gentle simmer. While the soup is simmering, trickle in the cornmeal, and stir occasionally until the polenta is tender, about 40 minutes. Season to taste with salt.
- Serve the thick soup in shallow bowls with a good ribbon of the olive oil on top.