White bean and kale soup ~ Ham Pie Sandwiches

09 January 2012

White bean and kale soup

White bean and kale soupI believe the applicable phrase is "aww yeah." I wish we had another pot of white beans all soaked and done so I could eat another batch of this tonight. I really do.

White beans and kale are:
- the perfect flavor combination: creamy and rich vs bitter and tangy
- super cheap yet super healthy
- hearty & rib-sticking for a satisfying winter dinner

Go forth and make some!

White bean and kale soup

white beans
olive oil
onion/garlic/a combination
hot peppers of your choice
dry vermouth for deglazing
bean or veg broth
kale or other appropriate greens
salt, pepper, sage, thyme, marjoram, a bay leaf
lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
optional liquid smoke

If you're using dried beans, start them the day before you want this soup. Sort a cup or two of beans, wash them in two changes of cold water, soak them overnight in twice their depth of water, and boil them, covered, for about an hour, or until cooked through & lovely. It's also a good idea to add a bay leaf to your beans for extra flavor. Presto: a big pan of beans plus homemade white bean broth, all ready for your soup!

Ok. When you're ready to make the actual soup, chop up some onion and garlic and sauté them with a slug of olive oil in the bottom of a large soup pot. While those are softening, finely dice a couple of carrots and sticks of celery; add them to the pot and continue to sauté. If you want some spice in your soup, mince a hot pepper and add it as well. Add a pinch of salt to help draw out the vegetables' juices. If your pan gets too hot and the vegetables start to stick, deglaze quickly with a little dry vermouth. In fact, just deglaze no matter what, since dry vermouth is awesome.

Once your vegetables are all tender and beautiful, season them with your preferred amount of pepper, sage, thyme, and marjoram. You can also add some red pepper flakes or paprika if you don't have a hot pepper yet still want spicy soup. Then add your cooked beans and their broth (and, incidentally, their bay leaf) to the pot. If you're using canned beans, drain off the canning liquid and use two or three cups of vegetable broth and a new bay leaf instead. You could also add some vegetable broth if you just don't have enough homemade bean broth to make the soup adequately liquid; it's all good.

Bring the pot to a boil; lower the heat; cover; simmer. I'd give it at least ten or fifteen minutes for the flavors to meld before you taste it and correct any seasonings. While you're waiting, wash, destem, and chop up a bunch of kale or other winter greens of your choice. Since greens shrink a lot when cooked, be sure to use a whole lot of them! I used an entire batch of curly kale for this (admittedly large) pan of soup. Anyway. When you're ready, add your greens to the pan, stir, and let cook for another five minutes, or until wilted. Take the pan off the heat.

To finish the soup, we need a little acid. So. First, taste your pan of soup to see what you're dealing with. Then either squeeze the juice of a quarter (or even half) of a lemon into your pan, or add a tablespoon or so of apple cider vinegar. Stir everything together and taste again. The acid will have heightened the flavors and made the soup feel almost less heavy than before.

If you want a smoky soup, it is also time to add a few careful drops of liquid smoke. Add maybe three to five drops, stir, and taste. The if you want a smokier end product, you can add a drop or two more. Liquid smoke can be super overpowering, though, so be sure to add it bit by tiny bit.

White bean and kale soupNow is the time when you can eat plenty of delicious soup! Serve yourself a bowl, garnish with a bit of torn parsley or grated parmesan, and dig in.

Things to eat with this soup:
- toast, pita bread, or cornbread
- a grilled cheese sandwich, if you feel the need for such a thing
- a big green salad
- some sort of delicious pickle, such as pickled carrots
- nothing at all; it's totally a full meal & very satisfying all by itself.



Veronica said...

Ok, might have to try this, although I must admit I've not found a way to cook kale that doesn't leave it feeling and tasting like wet dishrag. (Prejudiced much? Yes!) But white beans are teh noms....

Eileen said...

I find that 1. using actually good kale from the farmer's market or equivalent and 2. cooking for only about five minutes are a good way to make actually tasty kale. How do you normally cook it?