This is cold weather soup. Rainy day, flat tire, forgot your umbrella, just-want-to-curl-up-under-a-blanket-and-hibernate soup. Packed with earthy kale and creamy white beans in an aromatic broth, it’s warm and nourishing, savory and satisfying. With a flurry of Parmesan, a hunk of crusty bread, maybe a drizzle of olive oil, I can’t think of a better antidote to a lousy mood or messy weather.
And naturally, you can use store-bought stock for this hearty and healthful recipe, but after you’ve peeled and trimmed the vegetables you’re already halfway to homemade stock, so why not? Prep the ingredients and stock on a Sunday (freeze the extra broth for later use) and throw the soup together in about half an hour during the week. Since there’s just two of us in my house, I froze half the batch for another busy (and chilly!) weeknight.
White Bean and Kale Soup
adapted from Dan Barber, Bon Appétit 2009; serves about six
- 1 1/2 pounds dino kale leaves, center ribs and stems removed
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup carrots, peeled and chopped
- 1 cup celery, chopped
- 1 cup shallots (about 4), chopped
- 1/2 medium fennel bulb, sliced and chopped (optional)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 2 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, drained
- 4-5 cups (or more) vegetable or chicken broth
- 3 fresh thyme sprigs
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon Sherry or red wine vinegar
- salt and pepper
- one rind of Parmigiano-Reggiano (optional), plus grated cheese for serving
Blanch kale for one minute in a pot of salted, boiling water. Shock in ice water to cool; squeeze out excess water and coarsely chop. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the carrots, celery, shallots, fennel and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, for about 15 minutes.
Add the wine and cook until reduced by about half, about 7 minutes. Tie the thyme sprigs and bay leaf together with a bit of kitchen twine. Add the beans, 4 C broth, herbs, and cheese rind and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the kale and cook for 5 minutes. Fish out the herb bundle and the cheese rind; discard. Add more broth, if desired. Check for seasoning and correct for salt. Stir in the vinegar and serve with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and crusty bread.
Note: dino kale may also be called “Tuscan” or “lacinato” kale at your market. If you’re in a hurry, you can skip the blanching step; add chopped kale with the beans.
Variation: slice open two fresh Italian-style chicken or turkey sausages and discard the casings; brown the sausage in the olive oil for 5-8 minutes before adding the vegetables and proceed with the recipe.