Mark Leslie's Kale, Collards, Chicken & Tuscan Bean Soup

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Italian and Southern cuisines are more similar than you might think. Southerners enjoy leafy greens and beans, as much as Italians do. Since I live in the South and love to cook Italian food, here is my melding of two cultures by adding collard greens to a classic Italian soup. Delizioso, y'all!

Kale, Collards, Chicken & Tuscan Bean Soup 

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4 chicken thighs, deboned, skin removed, cut into 1-inch cubes

Kosher or Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 medium onion, minced

2 medium potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 cup white wine

2 large garlic cloves, minced

2 cups chopped kale, spines removed

2 cups chopped collard greens, spines removed

1 (19-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

8 cups low-sodium canned chicken broth (homemade preferred)

Grated Parmesan cheese for garnish (authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese preferred)

Extra virgin olive oil to drizzle

In a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat, add the olive oil. When hot, add the chicken, ¼ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper and sauté until the chicken is lightly browned. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

To the pot add the onion and potatoes, stirring to coat in the oil and chicken drippings, scraping up any brown bits in the bottom of the pan. Sauté until the onions turn translucent and the potatoes start to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and garlic, stir to combine, cooking until the wine is reduced by half. Add the kale, collards, ½ teaspoon salt, beans and the cooked chicken, stirring to combine.  Cook until the greens wilt, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the chicken broth, stir. Raise the heat to medium-high, bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat to low, cover and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the potatoes and beans are tender. Taste for seasoning, adjust with salt and black pepper.

Ladle into bowls, garnish with grated Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Serves 8 to 10.

* Want to go vegetarian? It's easy, substitute vegetable stock and omit the chicken thighs.