Soup always makes me feel like I’m on a diet, in a good way. That sounds crazy, yes? In the words of Inigo Montoya, “Lemme ‘splain. No, there is too much. Lemme sum up.”
There’s just something about eating a bowl of hearty, warm, and healthy soup that makes me feel both nourished (like a bowl of mac-n-cheese) and health-nutty (like a salad). This soup—courtesy of my wonderful friend Jo, and altered a bit to my taste—nails both of those components perfectly, and is excellent for those rainy days when you want comfort food, but you need to keep your eye on the ball of upcoming summer clothes-shopping.
Note: I think you could easily make this soup with canned beans if you’re pressed for time—it’ll cut an hour or more off the simmering time—but I went with dried beans because I was doing stuff around the house this day.
White Bean and Kale Soup
1lb dried cannellini (or small white) beans
12 cups water (original recipe said 10 cups, but I found I needed a bit more)
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
6 garlic cloves (I used jarred organic minced garlic, and a lot of it–might use more next time!)
2 bay leaves
4 cups veggie stock
4 cups kale
red pepper flakes
- Place beans, one of the onions (roughly chopped), and a bit of salt in a large pot, cover with 12 cups water, and get boiling. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour. Remove from heat and let sit (in the cooking water) for 20-30 minutes. Drain, reserving the cooking water for later.
- Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the second onion (chopped or sliced), garlic, and bay leaves. Saute until the veggies start to soften.
- Add cooked beans and onions, veggie stock, and 2 cups of the reserved cooking liquid. Bring to boil and reduce heat to simmer for 1-1.5 hours. One hour was enough for me. Stir occasionally to avoid sticking, and add more reserved cooking liquid if needed.
- Remove bay leaves and use a hand/immersion blender to puree the soup until it’s half-pureed, half-chunky. You can also pour half the soup into a blender, then return it to the pot. Keep the soup on low heat, but beware of popping bubbles of soup, especially if it’s pretty thick.
- Add more cooking liquid if needed to thin it out. I didn’t add much, and my soup was thick. I dug it, but you do it howevs.
- Optional step – blanch the kale in boiling water for 2-4 minutes to soften it. I didn’t do this and just threw the raw kale in the soup pot. It was great for my purposes—a chunkier and chewier soup/stew—but again, if you want something more slippery and soupy, blanch the kale first. (You may use spinach instead, but in that case you should definitely not blanch the greens.)
- Add kale to soup and season the whole thing to taste. Let it all simmer a bit longer to soak up the spices. I just used salt and pepper, and added the red pepper to my individual serving.
This makes a bunch of soup—next time, I’ll cut it in half. Wife and I ate it for dinner that night with some crusty sourdough bread; I then ate it for both breakfast and lunch for the next two days, and I still had to toss some leftovers after a few days. If you have a big family, though, this is a great way to make an easy, pleasing dinner for a bunch.