December 3, 2012 by jenniebean10
I believe that soup is generally appropriate for 3 out of 4 seasons during the year. During the summer, I made my corn chowder twice – refreshing, not too heavy, but substantial enough on its own to be a meal. In the fall, particularly when it’s raining, I like to curl up with a grilled cheese sandwich and roasted red pepper soup. (Haven’t made my own yet, but the kind from Trader Joe’s is kick-butt!) Now that it’s chilly enough where I can see my breath in the air most evenings, I’m more than ready to throw on my sweats, make a pot of stew, and hunker down for winter. I’m sure you could argue that soup is good in the Spring, too, but I just can’t think of a perfect soup for that season.
This kale and white bean stew is freakin’ fantastic hibernation fare. I’d never thought to thicken soup with bread, but the recipe I used called for day-old bread, it made sense, and I gave it a shot. **Warning** The bread REALLY thickens the stew, so use less bread, omit it, or add some more liquid at the end if you don’t want it quite as thick. Lemon zest gives the stew its unique taste, and the small amount of crushed red pepper flakes gives it a tiny little kick. It’s perfectly delicious served immediately after it’s made, but this soup reheats extremely well. It freezes well, too! The original recipe called for celery, but it would’ve been the most expensive ingredient in my soup and I said no thank you to that. I cannot believe that a bag of celery costs more than $3 at my local grocery store. You can’t explain that! I really do miss California sometimes.
Kale and White Bean Stew
adapted from 101 Cookbooks
yield: at least 10 servings
prep time: ~20 min // cook time: ~60 min
3 T extra virgin olive oil
3 medium cloves garlic, chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
2 small new potatoes, peeled and diced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 14-oz can (400 mL) crushed tomatoes
1/2 t. red pepper flakes
1/2 t. marjoram
1 lb. / 16 oz. / 450g kale, stems trimmed, ribs removed, leaves washed and well-chopped
2 cans / 4 cups / 22 oz. / 620g cooked white beans (I used a can of cannellini beans and a can of white northern beans), rinsed
5 – 1 inch slices day old bread (I used Brea Bakery garlic sourdough)
1 1/2 t. sea salt
zest from one lemon
optional, for serving: some well-chopped oily black olives (like Kalamata) and a spoonful of feta cheese
Over medium heat, combine the olive oil, garlic, carrot, potatoes, and onion in a very large thick-bottomed pot (a pressure cooker pot works perfectly). Cook for 10 -15 minutes, sweating the vegetables — avoid any browning. Stir in the tomatoes, marjoram, and red pepper flakes, and simmer for another 10 minutes or so, long enough for the tomatoes to thicken up a bit. Stir in the kale, 3/4 of the beans, and 8 cups / 2 liters water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the kale is tender, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, mash or puree the remaining beans with a good splash of water – until smooth. Tear or chop the bread into small, bite-sized chunks. Stir both the beans and bread into the soup. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the bread breaks down and the soup thickens, 20 – 30 minutes. Stir in the salt, taste and add more if needed. Finally, stir in the lemon zest.
Serve immediately, or cool and refrigerate overnight. Finish each serving with some chopped olives and/or feta.
Winter is coming; go make this soup!!