Yield: Serves 6

Adding a Parmesan cheese rind to a pot of soup gives it great depth of flavor. I save the rinds in a bag in my freezer so I always have one on hand when I need it. If you want to make this dairy free, omit the cheese rind. It will still be delicious! When using beans in a soup, I like to use dried beans, which must be soaked and then cooked. But feel free to use canned beans (organic if possible). I use any white bean I have on hand (white kidney bean, great northern, navy) and they all work just fine.


5 slices of bacon, diced
1 cup carrots, diced
1 cup, celery, diced
1 ½ cups onion, diced
3 cloves garlic
5 cups of kale, finely chopped
1 ½ cups cooked white beans
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
8 cups of chicken stock
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
If available, Parmesan cheese rind


1. Sauté bacon until crisp. Remove from pan and set aside on a paper towel lined plate. Discard all but 1 Tbsp. of the bacon fat.

2. Over medium heat, sauté carrots, celery and onions. Once they have softened, add garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add crushed red pepper.

3. Add kale and sauté briefly. Add the chicken stock, beans, rosemary sprig and Parmesan cheese rind and cook for 20-25 minutes.

4. Remove rosemary sprig and cheese rind. Take ¾ cup beans and ½ cup of stock from the pot and place in blender. Blend and return the mixture to the pot. This will thicken the soup.

5. Return bacon to pot and cook another 5 minutes.

6. Serve and enjoy.


3 ½ lbs. chicken parts with bones, such as backs, legs, wings, feet, carcass or one 3-4 lb. whole chicken, cut up and trimmed of fat.
1 large onion, quartered
1 large carrot, cut into chunks
3 ribs celery, cut into chunks
8 sprigs fresh flat leaf parsley with stems
1 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
A few black peppercorns or a few grinds of black pepper
Salt, to taste (optional)

1. Combine all ingredients, except salt, in the slow cooker. Add cold water to cover by 2-3 inches. Cover and cook on High for one hour.

2. Skim off any surface foam with a large spoon. Cover and turn the slow cooker to low.  Cook for 6-16 hours. If the water cooks down below the ingredients, add a bit more boiling water.

3. Uncover and let cool to lukewarm. Set a large colander lined with cheesecloth over a large bowl and pour the broth through to strain. Press on the vegetables to extract all the liquid. Discard the vegetables, skin and the bones. You can reserve the meat for soup or another dish. Taste the broth and season with salt. Or, wait to add the salt until you use the broth.

4. Refrigerate the broth until the fat rises to the top and congeals. Skim off the fat. The stock can be refrigerated for 2-3 days or can be frozen. I find it convenient to store the broth in wide mouth mason jars. When freezing, leave 2 inches at the top of the container to allow for expansion.  Whether refrigerated or frozen, make sure the broth is brought to a boil when using it.

This is a very versatile soup. Don’t have kale? Use collards or chard. Not a big fan of lentils? Add beans or quinoa instead. Pancetta not your thing? Substitute bacon or a good quality sausage (Brown Boar Farm in my favorite). You get the idea! Parmesan cheese rinds are a delicious addition to almost any soup. I freeze leftover rinds so I always have them on hand.


4 thick slices of pancetta, diced
2 onions, medium dice
4 carrots, medium dice
4 medium celery stalks, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
6 cups of kale, stems trimmed, leaves roughly chopped
1 cup lentils, washed and picked over
10 cups of chicken stock (or 8 cups stock/2 cups water)
1 fresh rosemary sprig
Parmesan cheese rind (can purchase at the Fruit Center or Whole Foods)
1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

1. In a large, heavy pot, sauté the pancetta over medium heat until it renders most of its fat, about 10 minutes. Remove pancetta from pan and place on a paper towel lined plate. Discard most of the fat in the pan.

2. Drizzle the pot with olive oil and add the onions, carrots and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the kale and cook until the kale is wilted, about 5 minutes.

3. Add the chicken stock  (or chicken stock and water), lentils and sprig of rosemary and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, add the Parmesan cheese rind and simmer until the lentils are tender, about 45 minutes. Remove rosemary sprig and parmesan rind and season to taste with salt and pepper. Off heat, add 1 Tbs. of balsamic vinegar.

4. I like to serve this soup topped with some grated Parmesan cheese.