Pasta, Kale and White Bean Soup

Pasta, Kale and White Bean Soup (adapted from Food Network Kitchen)

3 slices bacon, chopped
1 small onion, diced
3 carrots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3/4 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup grated parmesan, plus 1 small piece rind
1 1/2 cups small pasta, such as ditalini (about 8 ounces)
1 15 -ounce can white beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen chopped kale, thawed and squeezed dry (or 1 box of fresh kale, wilted in a pan before adding)
6 cups of water

Put the bacon in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 4 minutes. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Add the carrots, garlic, tomato paste, thyme and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper and cook until the carrots begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth, 6 cups water and the parmesan rind. Increase the heat to high; cover and bring to a boil.

Add the pasta and beans and cook, uncovered, 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and add the kale. Simmer, uncovered, until slightly thickened, about 7 minutes. Remove the parmesan rind, stir in half of the grated cheese and season with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and top with the remaining cheese.

Sweet Potato French Fries (from Sarah Manaresi’s Kitchen)

2 large sweet potatoes
olive oil
freshly grated parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Cut sweet potatoes to desired size. Soak in water for about 10 minutes. Drain and pat dry. Toss in olive oil and salt. Bake for at least 30 minutes, checking every 15 for doneness. Turn every 15 minutes for even cooking.