Initially, I had every intention of making a pork and white bean chili, a perfect meal on a cold February day. However, during the cooking process I made a few revisions and ended up with a spicy pork and white bean soup; just as satisfying but not quite as heavy.
This soup’s distinct flavor comes from two key ingredients: the spicy Italian peppers and the star anise. These peppers look harmless, but they pack a punch and really liven up the soup. The star anise adds some of that beautiful licorice flavor and Asian influence to this otherwise straightforward soup.
And let me tell you, when it’s all snowy on the outside, this is a great way to keep warm inside. Although we didn’t experience a storm anywhere near the magnitude of my friends and family back in Boston, we did manage to accumulate about 4 or 5 inches of white stuff here in Queens. This was my walk home after getting out of work early on Friday:
So this was a pretty welcome sight:
Pork and White Bean Soup
- 3 whole star anise
- 2 1/2 pounds pork stew meat
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 white onion, diced
- 4 ribs celery, diced (including green leafy tops)
- 3 carrots, diced
- 2 hot Italian peppers, minced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 2 tsp oregano
- 15 oz small white beans, drained and rinsed
- 15 oz cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 qt chickens stock
- chopped scallions, for garnish
Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat and toss in the star anise. Season the pork well with salt and pepper and when the oil is hot, brown the pork in batches and then set aside.
When all of the pork is browned, add more oil to the pot if necessary and then toss in the onion, celery, carrots and Italian peppers. Season the veggies with salt and pepper and cook until they start to soften. Mix in the garlic, chili powder and oregano until it is fragrant.
Stir in the beans, making sure they get plenty of seasoning and then add the chicken stock. Cover and simmer for an hour, until the pork is tender and cooked through. Discard the star anise and then serve the soup with plenty of fresh scallions on top.