Start to finish: 1 hour
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound hot Italian sausage, casings removed
1 onion, chopped fine
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
8 ounces (2 1/4 cups) orecchiette
12 ounces kale, stemmed and chopped
1 ounce Pecorino Romano cheese, grated (1/2 cup), plus extra for serving
Salt and pepper
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add sausage and cook, breaking meat into 1/2-inch pieces, until lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in onion and beans and cook until onion is softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in garlic, oregano, fennel seeds, and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Stir in broth and water, increase heat to high, and bring to boil. Stir in pasta and half of kale. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and simmer vigorously for 4 minutes. Place remaining kale in pot without stirring, cover, and cook until kale is just tender, about 4 minutes. Stir to incorporate kale and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until most of liquid is absorbed and pasta is tender, 3 to 6 minutes.
Off heat, stir in Pecorino and remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste; serve, passing extra Pecorino separately.