Just the words evoke images of fluffiness; of warmth. For me, comfort foods have always been white and fluffy—and processed carbs. But, you know, as a woman becomes a woman of a certain age, those white and fluffy carbs tend not to be your friend. And ultimately, you find that these allies whom you once depended on, the ones you turned to in your hours of need, are more like your frenemies.
What’s a girl to do?
Well, this girl has turned to soup. I love soup, and I love to make soup. How else can you take a big pile of nothing (like some random leftovers) and turn it into a big pot of something? That’s kitchen magic, I tell you.
I discovered white bean and kale soup at my local fancy grocery store’s buffet when I met a friend for lunch. It sounded so hearty. I’ve heard of kale; I know it’s good for me. White beans are tasty. It smelled divine. My friend chimed in “I’ve had it! It’s good,” and that’s all the endorsement I needed, I filled up a bowl and that was that. And my friend did a wonderful job ignoring the soup mustache I got from downing that cup of yum in record time.
Two days later, I drove five miles out of my way (yes, fine, in each direction) to again visit this store to again get a cup of this soup (a bigger one this time). What can I say? I was hooked! That night, I decided to look for a recipe and low & behold, the Interwebs turned up the very same recipe for the soup I’d been enjoying.
I made a few tweaks and whipped up a giant batch of soup and I’ve been enjoying it ever since. I’d share a picture of it, but as soon as I get a bowl of soup ready? I eat it. So instead, I share a picture of kale, which makes this soup so good.
Why? You ask—why does kale make such a difference? Well, it’s cheap. It’s healthy. And it holds up. Even after it’s been frozen, the kale keeps some body and texture and doesn’t get all mushy. Kale is also high in fiber, vitamin A and disease-fighting antioxidants. If you’ve never tried kale, I strongly suggest you give it a try in this soup. You can find the original recipe if you search for it; my adapted version is here.
Kale and White Bean Soup (adapted from Whole Foods recipe)
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 md yellow onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 stalk celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
8 cups chicken stock
1 bunch kale, trimmed and chopped
2 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes
1 14.5-ounce can white beans, drained and rinsed
salt, pepper, Italian seasoning to taste
freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
– In a large saucepan, heat oil and add onion, carrot, celery and garlic. Cook several minutes, until slightly softened.
– Add stock, tomatoes and kale. Cover and cook until kale reduces (it’s very fluffy!) a bit and softens somewhat.
– Just before serving, add beans and heat through.
If I had a rind from Parmesan cheese, I would have thrown that in the saucepan with the stock. It adds a depth of flavor. I’d also add some leftover chopped chicken or chicken Italian sausage to make a heartier soup. Add more stock if you prefer a more brothy soup. Add ditalini or other small noodles if you like pasta in your soup, makes it a sort of Italian wedding soup.
Serves 4-8, or freeze the leftovers in meal-sized portions if nobody else at your house will eat this delicious soup (like my crazy family who don’t think that beans & greens make for a tasty dinner).