Recipe: Kale and Cannellini Bean Soup
In No Kinda Mood for Raw Veggies
In these last days before we officially welcome the Spring season, there’s a lot of health-conscious folks getting ready to start their full body detox or cleanse. Spring is actually a really good time for renewal, and certainly a better choice than January 1st (in the dead of winter) to be convinced that a plateful of raw veggies looks appealing.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not there yet. Don’t get me wrong, I’m looking forward to all the spring fruits and veggies! But with thunderstorms and cooler temperatures still keeping me dressed in layers, I’m in the mood for something to warm my insides. So if you’re looking for a great way to start transitioning into a lighter, healthier diet while still looking for a little comfort food, here’s the best of both worlds: a bowlful of delicious veggies in a steamy, fragrant broth!
2-3 bunches of kale (I prefer lacinto “dinosaur” kale because it’s less grassy tasting than the “lacy” kind)
4 leeks (white/light green parts, sliced)
1-2 zucchini, diced
2-5 carrots, diced
Juice of 1 lemon
4 peeled garlic cloves
½ tsp red chili flakes
3 celery stalks, diced
2 cans cannellini beans
1 tbsp tomato paste
3 quarts vegetable broth
Salt and pepper to taste
2- 3 tbsps olive oil
Shaved parmesan (optional)
Sliced French baguette, lightly toasted (optional)
Leeks are fabulous. They tend to be sweeter than yellow or white onion, with the extra flavor of a green onion. But watch out for the dirt! I like to use a second cutting board away from my other ingredients to prepare them:
Cut off the dark green stalk (it’s woody), cut each leek in half lengthwise, and then slice. Put the sliced leek in a large bowl of warm water and slosh them around (in the sink) and the dirt will sink to the bottom:
Strain, rinse, and set aside.
Speaking of rinsing, now’s a good time to drain and rinse your cannellini beans, too:
Kale has become popular due to being full of nutrients and fiber, and I’m also drawn to it because I like the bite of bitter greens such as arugula, dandelion root, and radicchio. Not everyone in my family agrees, so I try to cook them in a way that balances out their flavor. In this recipe, I use the leeks and cannellini beans to add both a creamy texture and savory flavor to the soup.
To prepare the kale, stack 8-12 (washed) leaves at a time and roll them from the stalk side up. Then you can easily slice them into thin strips. Set aside.
Ok. The rest is going to happen quickly, so you can go ahead and get your soup pot heated to medium high, then add 2-3 tbsps olive oil. Let the oil heat a minute or so and add in your washed, drained leeks. Season the leeks lightly with salt and pepper and reduce heat to medium.
While your leeks are softening, mince 4 garlic cloves, 1 tsp fresh rosemary, and dice 3 celery stalks. Add them to your leeks:
Stir and let cook another couple minutes before adding in your tomato paste and red chili flakes:
The thing about tomato paste (whether you add it in a soup or anything else) is that it’s important to let it cook out. It’s kind of like “ripening”; the heat both intensifies the flavor and mellows out the rawness.
Stir it in!
As you can see, it almost looks like we added flour. Instead, we’ve created a great thickening base that will add body to the soup.
Alright, get ready to deploy your stock. I used (3) 1 quart cartons. By the way, see all that good stuff sticking to the bottom of the pot in the background? That’s flavor. Be sure to loosen all that up to incorporate into the soup as you pour in your stock. Then give everything another stir and turn it up to high heat. While it comes to a boil prep the last of your ingredients:
The juice from one lemon (strain the seeds). Dice your carrots and zucchini. Set the zucchini aside.
Once your soup has come to a boil,
add in the lemon juice, sliced kale and carrots:
Isn’t it gorgeous? Just like you ;). Cover and turn down the heat. Let simmer for 8-10 minutes. Uncover and then add your cannellini beans:
Gently stir them in. Taste, adding salt and pepper as needed. Cover and simmer another 5 minutes.
Serve hot, adding the zucchini to each serving bowl and topping with the shaved parmesan if desired:
You can also enjoy with some toasted slices of French baguette :)
Thanks for reading!
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- Dannelle LeBlanc